Fast Tip Friday: Let’s talk about THAT smell.

I recently got myself stricken with food poisoning and so spent an inordinate amount of time bent over my toilet bowl.  In doing so, I noticed that, no matter how many times I diligently scrubbed the toilet from top to bottom, I was still smelling … THAT smell.  Like a boys’ bathroom in a college dorm.  You know what I mean.

THAT Smell 1

Turns out that the problem isn’t my bad cleaning habits, but a gas leak from around the u-bend.  Fixing it is easy peasy.  Grab some all-purpose silicone and a pair of gloves.

THAT Smell 2

Run a bead of silicone all around the bottom of your toilet to seal in the bad smell.

THAT Smell 3

Run your gloved finger around that to smooth it down, and wipe off the excess with a dry cloth.  Let it cure, and you’re good to go. Smell solved.

THAT Smell 4

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Grape Crate Pet Beds

Grape Crate Cat Beds Final 12

We currently live in an Italian neighbourhood and in the fall a good many of our neighbours squished their own grapes to make wine.  The result was that there were plenty of these nice wooden crates at the curb when they were done.  I knew I HAD to have them, to make SOMETHING, but I didn’t know what, exactly, I was going to do with them.  Then my brother-in-law got a cat.  Then my brother got a cat.  Then my sister-in-law mentioned that she was going to get a cat.  And cats like boxes.  And these boxes are cat-sized.  So there you go.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 1

First I had to clean them off and scrape off the labels and sand them a bit.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 3

Grape Crate Cat Beds 5

The sides of the crates were made from particle board, so I didn’t sand too much, naturally.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 4

I did wonder how the porosity of the particle board would affect my ability to stain it.  I guess the only way to find out is to do it!

Grape Crate Cat Beds 6

I used a variety of stains for this, the dregs that were in the bottoms of cans from previous projects.  One was a gel stain, which I had never used before.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 7

You can see how dark it goes on.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 8

It almost covered up the ink on the sides of the crate, but came back through once I wiped off the excess.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 9

Here you can see the other two stains, which were more translucent.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 10

Wiping off the excess with a rag after painting it on.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 13

It came out darker depending on the roughness of the wood.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 12

And I forgot about the whole STAINING part of stain, and forgot to wear gloves.  Oops.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 11

Once they’d dried, I painted on a quick layer of varathane.

Grape Crate Cat Beds 15

Again, because I didn’t sand them too much, we weren’t looking at baby’s bottom smoothness here.

Grape Crate Cat Beds Final 1

The completed boxes.

Grape Crate Cat Beds Final 2

I bought three pillows, each 13″ x 20″, which nearly fit the inside of the boxes.

Grape Crate Cat Beds Final 4

Fortunately my mother has what amounts to a fabric store in her basement, so I had plenty of patterns to choose from for cushion covers.

Grape Crate Cat Beds Final 5

I made the cushion covers in the same fashion as I make all my other cushion covers: with the simple overlap in the back that eliminates the need for buttons or zippers, which are beyond my skill level.  I double-sewed all the seams because I wanted them to last through being removed for washing.  I got the whole thing done super quickly, too, because I was using my grandmother’s sewing machine, which has two settings: terrifyingly fast, and supersonic.  And I didn’t sew my thumb to anything, either, so I count that as a win.

Grape Crate Cat Beds Final 6

The cushions, stuffed inside the covers.

Grape Crate Cat Beds Final 7

And inside the box.  There’s a little gap on the sides, but once the pillows get squished down by the cats they’ll fill the whole space.

Grape Crate Cat Beds Final 9

Grape Crate Cat Beds Final 13
I decided they were too tricky to wrap (and a waste of paper), so it’s more of a token wrapping job.

Grape Crate Cat Beds Final 14

Frosty Lights

Frosty Lights

We never decorate this early for Christmas.  We’re more of the put-it-up-a-week-before-Christmas-and-take-it-down-New-Year’s-Day kind of people.  In fact, because the Pie and I always travel home to Ottawa for the holidays, we don’t decorate at our house in St. John’s at all.

But there is snow on the forecast tomorrow, and we decided we wanted to enjoy a little bit of the holiday spirit while we were still home.  Just a little bit, of course.

I was practicing my glass cutting technique and I had three jars with no tops.  What was I to do with them?

Frosty Lights

I like lights.  Why not make little hurricane lamps out of them, but without the prospective fire hazard of sticking a candle inside?  Yes.

I also remembered an idea that Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff had, and worked from there.  If you don’t read her blog, you should.  She’s hilarious.  I discovered her site when she stole one of my photographs in the middle of the night.  Sneaky lady.

So here’s the plan.  I have these jars, and I have these LEDs that I can stuff in the jars.  You get the picture?  Good, because we’re not done yet.

Frosty Lights

I wanted these jars to look frosted, like someone had frozen three jar-shaped ice cubes and left them melting on my mantle.  So it’s time to haul out the etching cream.

You can get a full how-to on etching glass from a previous post here, but I’m going to remind you again to observe all the safety rules and wear the proper equipment: goggles, mask, and gloves.

Frosty Lights

And because my sink is ceramic, I needed a plastic bucket full of baking soda in which to rinse my glass, to neutralize the acid.

Frosty Lights

I used a different cream this time than I had before, because when I needed it Lee Valley had temporarily stopped selling it.  So this stuff looked like peanut butter with salt crystals in it, and it smelled much stronger than the other stuff I was using.  But it had the same results.  I didn’t want an even coating of frost, so I only applied a thin layer of cream and I only did one application.  I was hoping that some spots would remain un-etched, and that my brush strokes would show through.  And I was right!  That doesn’t happen very often.

Frosty Lights

So here are the jars after frosting and rinsing.  You can see that they look really like someone has just steamed them up on the inside.

Frosty Lights

Stuff some lights in them, however, and they go from steamy to frosty.

Frosty Lights

Up close, you can see my brush strokes in evidence.

Frosty Lights

Lined up on the mantle, with other things seasonal, it’s quite cozy.

Frosty Lights

Etching Glass

This project was probably one of the most enjoyable that we did this past Christmas.  Hazardous, yes, because you are dealing with a caustic liquid and its attendant dangers, but fun nonetheless.  This is NOT a project you can do with children.  You need to work in a well-ventilated area and you need to wear rubber or latex gloves as well as safety goggles while you are doing it.For etching glass I used Armour Etch, a glass etching cream that I picked up from Lee Valley.  You can get it at Michael’s as well, if you are prepared to pay about three times the price for it.  It’s good stuff.  Keep in mind it does not work on plastic and most Pyrex.

First, however, you need to create your stencils.  I printed out some images from the internet and then traced them onto clear vinyl masking (also from Lee Valley).The tracing and cutting out is really the hard part in all of this.Next, carefully peel the backing form the mask and apply it firmly to your clean and dry glass.  Make sure there are no bubbles or gaps.You can also use masking tape to outline certain areas.Next, very (very) carefully paint on the etching cream in a thick layer in the area you wish to be etched.  If you accidentally get cream anywhere else than you intended, it will leave a permanent mark.The instructions say to leave the cream on for 5 to 10 minutes, but I found it worked better if I left it on for 20.  In some cases you may also find that a second application is in order.When your time is up, rinse the glass object thoroughly in warm water.  I found the cream came off best if I brushed it with the paint brush.  As a side note, do not rinse off the etching cream in an enamel sink — only rinse in a metal or plastic sink or you will find yourself without an enamel sink …Peel off your masking and throw it away.  You may have to rinse the glass again if there was any cream caught in the crevices of the stencil.  Dry the glass thoroughly and you’re all done.  This is a jar for my brother-in-law Rusty to keep his keys and phone in so he doesn’t lose them.  If you don’t recognize it, that’s the Rebel Alliance insignia from Star Wars.I also used the cream on a vase for my sister-in-law Meg:Some cups and saucers for the Mtree Duo:An AT-AT jar for my brother Ando (in keeping with the Star Wars theme):And a coffee jar for the ever-caffeinated Cait, among other things:This was so much fun the Pie and I agreed we would try to think of new glass objects to give people for Christmas next year.  You can pick up glass items from pretty much anywhere for relatively little: IKEA (where I got the jars), Winners/Home Sense (where Rusty’s and Meg’s vases came from), and let’s not forget second-hand shops (Mtree duo’s cups and saucers came from there).  Get creative!