A “Meh”rry Christmas…

Joy

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Hands down. People like me are the reason Christmas stuff is already flooding store shelves in October. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, I basically turn into a 5 year old as the lights and decorations start getting dragged out – that is, if I haven’t already gotten too excited and started the decorating a week early.

But this year, for some reason, I’m having trouble getting into the spirit. I’m very “meh” about the whole thing this year.

TV

I started out with my usual enthusiasm, decorating my parents house with them the day after Thanksgiving – Christmas carols on the radio, hot chocolate in hand. As soon as I got back to my own apartment that Saturday, out came the decorations. I have four large storage tubs full.

The tree went up in all her glory – a santa hat perched atop my head, the yule log crackling on the TV (yea, I’m one of those people), and the Charlie Brown Christmas album blasting out of my laptop speakers. I was thrilled. Even without any of the breakable ornaments on the tree (I purposely left them off this year because Olive is still a kitten), she was beautiful.

IMG_20141201_230655

But my excitement quickly turned into war. Olive decided that the Christmas tree was a much better playground than the 6-ft tall cat playground we have for her. She, overnight, became a living terror. She climbed, she stole ornaments, she (somehow) managed to shatter what was supposed to be a shatterproof ornament while it remained on the branches.

I tried everything in my cat-behavior playbook except the spray bottle technique (the apartmentmate doesn’t want to use the spray bottle technique with her, and since she’s his cat I must respect those wishes). Nothing worked. Even the citrus spray that cats are supposed to HATE only deterred her for a total of 48 hours. She likes it now.

The more I pulled her out of and off of the tree, the more determined Olive became. It became impossible to actually enjoy the tree. The apartmentmate was pretty good at keeping her away from it by keeping her otherwise occupied – something I was incapable of achieving no matter how much I tried – but he wasn’t home all that much during the following weeks. When it was just me and her, she would not be deterred. And when I wasn’t home either? It was open tree season.

The final straw was the day I came home from work to find three of the tree branches now broken, hanging limp and creating a gap in the tree that I could probably fit in if I curled up.

Tree stuff all packed up

My tree wasn’t much, but she was mine. My parents gave her to me last year when they bought a new one, and I spent hours removing the old dead lights from it and making it my own (see my post about it here). It was the little piece of Christmas at home that I got to take with me when I moved out. Really, when you get right down to it, my favorite physical thing about the holidays.

And it was broken.

I took the tree down that weekend.

Starbucks Christmas cup

With the tree down, Olive’s behavior has generally returned to normal, and she doesn’t really bother any of the other decorations – at least not purposely. I no longer seethe with anger and resentment when I look at her.

Which is good, since I have to live with her for the foreseeable future. And also because, really, it’s not her fault – she was just doing what cats do.

2014-11-24_11-26-34The “cat that ruined Christmas” back up on the tree she’s supposed to climb.

But I also haven’t really been able to get back into Christmas mode. Even with all my other little decorations still up, Christmas music playing on Spotify, and my Christmas mugs being used each morningm I’ve remained, well, kind of grumpy. The tree for me is the main marker of the season. Taking the tree down seems to have triggered the “post-christmas doldrums” in me several weeks early.

I’m hoping I can get back into the holiday groove when I go to my parents on Wednesday, since their tree is up and perfect still. But until then I’m going to keep trying to get myself back into the spirit.

grumpycat in sleigh

Anyone have any tips on getting my holiday groove back?

So I Have a Mug Problem

Mug Envy

Hi,

My name is Maggie and I have a mug problem.

It gets worse around the holidays, as I spend hours searching for cool, unique gifts for friends and family on sites like Redbubble and Society6. And for every perfect gift I find, I find four other things that I want for myself. Mostly mugs.

I gravitate towards mugs.

Mugs speak to me.

Because as I said, I have a mug problem.

I don’t know why, but picking the right mug can make or break my day in the morning. Having my coffee or tea in the proper mug is ever so important. And the really great thing about mugs is that it’s the perfect subtle way to rep my nerdery. Because I don’t really wear fandom T-shirts or anything – it’s just not really my thing. But mugs?

Oh, mugs.

Here are my current top twelve “wants” from Society6 (Redbubble doesn’t allow clipping to Polyvore) at the current moment:

1) The Jeffersonian Institute Mug by Seeleybooth – because Bones is the greatest.

2) Christmas Cat by Lime – Grumpy Cat just really resonates with me this Christmas – I had to take my tree down because Olive was breaking it beyond repair, and I’ve been sort of grumpy ever since.

3) Bad Tempered Rodents by Anna-Maria Jung – because Monty Python references = <3333

4) Adventurer Like You Mug by Kim Hobby – because Skyrimmmmmmmm.

5) Work Harder, Comrade! by April Schumacher – this mug has “Work Harder, Comrade!” in Soviet-style lettering on the other side and I just love it.

6) Sailor Moon Pattern Mug by Trigun29 – I love how subtle this one is – you wouldn’t necessarily know it’s a Sailor Moon thing if you didn’t watch pretty closely – it’s the pattern from Usagi’s comforter!

7) Flugel der Freiheit by Canis Picta – an Attack on Titan mug that again, you wouldn’t necessarily know is an Attack on Titan mug unless you’re familiar with the series.

8) Grumpy Mug by Studio Marimo – again, Grumpy Cat has just been my spirit animal lately.

9) Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere by Karen Hallion Illustration – Belle and the Tardis, what’s not to love?

10) Sailor Moon Mug by Guizmo04 – another Sailor Moon mug, this time a little more obvious, but stylized a little like those POP vinyl figurines.

11) Canefight! Sumner vs. Brooks by Lizzywhimsy – a history mug! You knew I couldn’t make an “I want” list without at least one, and Lizzywhimsy (who I discovered on Tumblr) has just a shop FULL of US History awesomeness.

12) Vintage Map Mug by Maximillian San – and to round out the list, this beautiful map mug. Because maps are the best.

What are the things you find yourself adding to your wishlist as you Christmas shop?

Flea Market Finds

Market scene full

So I found these beautiful watercolor paintings at an indoor flea market a few weeks ago.

bridge scene full

The guy who sold them to me said they were from the 1930’s, which would make them pre-war productions (he re-matted and reframed them). They seem to be somewhat mass produced – the outline of the painting is pressed into the paper, and then an individual artist added color.

Market scene closeup

He may have been full of shit (although he was a super nice and interesting guy who seemed to know what he was talking about – we spent a lot of time talking about the fossils he was selling and he def knew what was up), but even if he is, I don’t care. I love them and can’t wait to get them hung up. I haven’t decided where to put them yet – but I’m thinking near my craft area.

That said, I really wish I was more advanced in my Japanese studies – they’re going disgustingly and frustratingly slow without any access to formal classes or a tutor of some sort – because maybe then I could read what the text says… It might give some clue as to exactly what these are, when and where they were made, and who painted them.

Writing closeup on market scene

Anyone read Japanese?

So I Fixed an Antique Table

Table legs detached

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted about something productive on here – I honestly just haven’t been that crafty/industrious lately.

Except, I fixed a table.

My Aunt had given this table to us when we first moved into this new apartment. The one catch was that it was broken – specifically, the dowel pins that stabilize the table had rotted away and broken over the years, leaving the legs detached and wobbly. It was an easy fix, but not something she was willing to put the time into, so ours it became…

…and then it proceeded to sit in her garage for a year because me, Jim, and the apartmentmate could not get our shit together enough to come pick it up.

broken dowel closeup

But we finally did it! We finally got our asses in gear and got it up to our apartment a few weeks ago. The only thing left to do was to figure out how to flush out the broken dowels (the wood glue originally used was still totally solid), replace them with new ones, and reattach the legs.

Easy peasy.

Tools

Or it should have been. I had hoped to be able to dig out the dowels without using my grandfather’s drill (which I borrowed from my father juuussssstttt in case), mainly because I don’t necessarily trust myself to play with power tools on an antique without screwing it up royally.

But the file set and pliers just did not end up cutting it – the wood glue that was in there originally was just too solid. I even tried using a corkscrew. Like for wine.

It broke.

Whoops.

So I ended up having to bite the bullet and drill them out.

Legs reattached

It was terrifying, but nothing went too awry. I managed to get the legs reattached and stabilized. It’s not the most perfect job ever, but pretty good considering I was working in our dining room with a kitten who was dangerously interested in what I was doing.

And in the end, we have a beautiful new coffee bar! (No worries about spills, the table has a water-resistant finish).

Finished coffee bar

Filling Empty Wall Space

I’ve been on a home-dec kick lately. Or rather, I’ve been on a home-dec kick on PINTEREST lately. Because actually decorating the apartment requires money – at least a little – and money is exactly what I should not – no, CAN’T – spend right now.

But anyway, I’ve been specifically concerned lately about our surplus of empty wall space. There’s just a lot of white, blank walls in our apartment, and it’s starting to get to me a little bit. So I’ve been looking for ideas about how to decorate using as little money as humanly possible, and Pinterest (of course) came through in spades. I figured I’d share some of my favorites with you too! Links and images will take you to the original site – if that wasn’t available the links will take you to my pin.

clothes pin picture hanging via voyanges of the creative variety
A lovely photo display using twine and clothespins via Voyages of the Creative Variety

crochet potholder collection via maker mama craft blog
A great use for crocheted potholders – vintage or newly made – as seen on Maker Mama’s 7 Thrifty Collections Post

embroidery hoop photo frames via country living
Turning embroidery hoops into picture frames with this tutorial by Jessica Marquez on Country Living.com

embroidery hoop pinboards
More embroidery hoop cleverness by turning them into pinboards – the literal kind!

framed coins
Framing foreign coins would be great way to display all those extra yuan I have from my trip to China in college, and all the various pocket change my dad always saved me from his work trips abroad when I was little.

framed scrapbook paper
Framing some favorite scrapbook paper as art might work well – maybe adding some stenciled silhouettes to some of them might work too?

shopping bags as art on Ladolcevitablog
Framing designer shopping bags as art might also be kind of cool – although it’s not like I have a surplus of these… I do still have my little Tiffany bag from a high school graduation present though, so maybe as part of a larger framed gallery collage?

skirt hanger art via Mad in Crafts
Using wooden skirt/pants hangers as art hangers as seen on Mad in Crafts might work well above my bed – bonus, you can swap out the art whenever you want!

yarn scrap art via easy makes me happy
And last but not least: using up that big bag of yarn scraps I have by making a wall hanging like this one on Easy Makes Me Happy might be just the ticket, and would certainly free up some space in my yarn box.

Do you have any cheap, easy, but cool wall decoration ideas? If so, please do share!