March 26, 2012

Vera Bradley Eggs!

Taking a break from my typical, surly blog to post a craft I did (crossing my fingers I get posted on some cool DIY sites).

Anyway, a while back I saw a post about making Vera Bradley pumpkins and candles by modpodging (yup, that's a word now) Vera Bradley napkins to faux pumpkins and candles (can you make candleholders or is mod podge flammable?). As much as I love Halloween, it's honestly the LAST holiday I would think of when I think of Vera Bradley (maybe I just need more bright colors, paisley, and flowers in my October decor). SO WHY WOULD I STOP AT HALLOWEEN?!

Cue me buying a surplus of Vera Bradley napkins and brainstorming all the things I could mod podge them to. Side note for all my friends reading this- you will more than likely get something covered in Vera Bradley for Christmas- just a heads up.

I also enjoy decorations that can be used for multiple holidays/events like blue glass pebbles which can work winter or beach- just drop them on/in a respective tray/vase. Instant easy classiness. But I digress, I thought that Vera Bradley eggs could work for Easter (no duh) and for anything else the napkin coordinates with.

Ironically could be used all parts of the year- except Halloween

So I worked out the bugs and can now share with you- be sure to read "The Lessons of the Boo-boo Eggs" at the bottom!

Start with the following:
  • plastic eggs (I grabbed a cheap-o bag of various sizes at Michaels. Don't grab one's that have been sitting in the sun- apparently, plastic melts/warps in the sun... yea... I got into grad. school somehow)
  • scissors
  • sandpaper (I used fine grade, probably don't want to use coarser because it will damage the egg too much)
  • white paint (I used acrylic but it left streaks since I was painting on plastic. I didn't care but you might and will want to use spray paint or something)
  • paint brush
  • mod podge (I used the matte finish but I haven't played around with any other versions to let you know if something would work better)
  • Vera Bradley napkins! or any thin pretty paper (being a cheap thrifty grad student, I got the luncheon napkins which were the cheapest and it worked fine)
Step 1: Prep your eggs. You'll want to cut the halves apart  and sand down the rough edges if you got the cheap-o ones like me. If you got the separated ones, cutting isn't necessary. Don't forget to sand down the little nubs at the ends of the eggs! Once you have the eggs nice and smooth, paint them white. If you're impatient like me, you can mod podge them together now or wait until the paint dries.
If you're going to do a half-arsed job (like me) or use acrylic which will leave streaks, I highly recommend coordinating the egg color with a color in the napkin because part of the napkin WILL become transparent (See Boo-boo Eggs).
Step 2: Measure your squares. I cut off the border of the napkins because the details were smaller and would have looked terrible cut-up. Plus, now I have a bunch of perfectly square box borders- I think I see Vera Bradley picture frames in my future! From one luncheon napkin I was able to cover 1 large, 2 medium, and 1 small egg. The measurements for that were: 11cm x 16.5 cm, 8.5 cm x 14 cm, and 6.5 cm x 11 cm, respectively. But Lauren, what if I used a different sized egg?! It's ok, calm down. You need your rectangle of napkin to be able to wrap around the chubbiest part of your egg and be tall enough to wrap from one end to the other (not all the way around). For your first egg, I would choose a piece that has an extra centimeter or more because you can always cut off but GOOD LUCK adding on! You'll also want to remove all the white backing to the napkins (see B-b E) but be careful- the napkins become delicate with no sturdy backing!
Sorry I didn't show an actual rectangle for you- I think you can use your imagination though.
Step 3: Prep your paper. This part takes some practice and negotiating. You're going to fray the top and bottom of the paper. The more cuts you make the more flat and smooth the finishing product will be BUT (the dreaded "but") the more distorted your picture will be as well. I chose distortion and smoothness over lumpy, less distortion- your call. When you make your choice, here's how you're going to fray- the side of the paper that will be at the bottom of your egg will be cut slightly wider and shallower than the top. Your top fray will be thin and you'll want to cut further into the paper. Make sure to leave a midsection! The fringes should not go to the center! Let's say you marked 1 thru 10 on your paper, the top should cut down to 4 while the bottom cuts up to 7. Make sense? I tried to show it below. PS- You'll want to go end to end on your fringing.
This was for a little egg, I believe, so the fringes were relatively narrow on both ends- you can go wider with larger eggs.
Step 3.5: Wait until your paint dries. ... if it hasn't already. If it has, and you haven't modpodged the eggs together yet, get on it! Because you'll want the mod podge to dry to before handling them (see Boo-boo eggs if you're tempted to not wait).


Step 4: Mod podge the middle. Only add a little mod podge at a time and keep it in the middle- if some part of the napkin clings where it isn't supposed to, it can tear while pulling it off and be a real pain. Carefully attach one side of the rectangle to your egg- be sure to check that your thinner/longer frays are at the top/tapered part of the egg and the fatter/shorter frays are at the bottom/rounded part of the egg. Also check that the ends of the paper can reach both the top and bottom of the egg. Try to level the paper so that it wraps around nicely and consistently. Avoid getting mod podge on the outside of the paper- it increase the chances that fringes or fingers will stick and tear the paper and, again, be a royal pain.
Keep frays out and slowly roll, smoothing down the paper as you go. Tip- The back of my nail served as a nice smoothing tool- even better when nail polish was on it, go figure!
Step 5: Mod podge the ends! Start with one end of the egg and fold down all the fringes (not all the way so that they get stuck to the middle but enough to see what you're doing). Work from the inner edge (assuming your edges overlapped after rolling) and gently mod podge down the fringes. Smooth them down with the brush as you go, again, use as little mod podge as possible (think the water test they do on toilet paper and paper towel ads- decorative napkins cannot hold up to a lot of water, they would be the "other brand" in the ads). I alternated the fringes as I went, rotating the egg twice. This allowed me to align the pattern somewhat and not have the pattern totally destroyed.
It doesn't look so hot, but go with me on this.
One end done! See the smoothness? That's why we go with the more narrow fringes.
Step 6: Coat and dry. Once both ends were completed, I did a thin over-all coat to give a consistent texture to the entire egg. Resist the urge to decorate with them before they dry!

The Lessons of the Boo-boo Eggs
I made Boo-boo eggs so you don't have to. It was totally on purpose *shifts eyes*
  • Paint your eggs white! See where the paper became transparent in white places but not consistently? That'll happen but if you're egg is white underneath, who cares- white flowers will look all white.
  • Wait for your eggs to dry! I didn't wait for the mod podge to seal the egg to the left together and it popped mid-podge, tearing the paper. Looks bad, doesn't it? Don't do it.
  • Remove the backing of the napkin! Again, the backing will just become transparent anyway and you're not helping yourself by having more paper in the mix. It will just get in your way.

And that's it! It's much more simple than my elaborate instructions makes it look. And once you get the hang of it, you'll have a bowl-full. Trust me on this...
Did I do the lazy "I'm not sure what to do with these so I'm going to dump them in a bowl like I totally meant to dump them in a bowl all along"? Why yes, yes I did.

March 1, 2012

The Couples Therapist is In

For the past couple of weeks, I've been seeing far too many men complaining about how they're "good guys" and get screwed over/passed up/ignored. Granted, this goes both ways (males and females alike) and this pattern has been observed over the years but have probably come out of the woodworks more in the past few weeks thanks to Communist- excuse me- Valentine's Day (No I don't like Valentine's Day but I'll save that for probably next year). And generally it's "nice" guys crying about how they "finish last" or were "made bad" by some former lover so that's the example I'm going to use in this post to make it less confusing but I really do believe it goes both ways- excuse the hotmess sexism.

Anyway, I'm here to impart my learning and my thoughts on the manner in efforts to help out. It may not sound nice but get over it- I'm not a "nice" person.

Which segues into my main point- no one is "nice" or "bad". Everyone has these qualities to them. None of us are perfect (we're human, after all) and none of us are evil (although now I'm thinking of all the serial killers on Criminal Minds). And for the purpose of covering all our bases, let's say there are a teeny, tiny, maybe three people in the world who are 100% perfect or 100% evil. You're not dating or trying to date them. Promise. The chances of that are ridiculous.

But for those who still are committed to the idea of "nice" and "bad" boys here's why bad boys are typically sought after.

First off, it's a primitive instinct to go for those exuding the testosterone. a) It shows health. A healthy mate is a lifelong mate that can go to the store and get you cookies at the drop of a hat. And a healthy mate can do, uh, exercises for extended periods of time, which is nice because women take a little longer to, uh, exercise. b) It shows fertility. As much as I don't want kids, I'm well aware that others do. Testosterone means little swimmers and a lot of people associate a strong guy with strong swimmers- even though that makes no sense but it's just another pull for attraction. c) It shows strength which goes hand in hand with d) It shows anger. Again, think the primitive monkeys- a strong, angry ape isn't going to let just anybody waltz around his tree or his mate. There's the assumption that a strong, angry man will fight for me and only me. Plus, if there's a zombie apocalypse, who do you want to be with? Nice nerd or buff douche? Maybe both so you can have the nerd to sacrifice...

If we step back into this century and out of the biological, there's the social reason that bad boys play by their own rules. You can always depend on an asshole to be an asshole. Sometimes he's nice and you start to think silly notions that he has a "good" guy lurking in him. Then he's an asshole- whatttttt??? That's right. You can depend on an asshole to be an asshole. Always.

Also, with either feminine men or women (but we'll continue with women), there's this drive to nurture and care for things. The "bad" boy is literally a project- he needs to be cared for and fixed. And because I'm oh-so-special, I can do it! Where 20 bazillion women have failed to change him, I'm BOUND to succeed. I know it sounds stupid but it happens.

Having said all this, I must stress, you don't need to be an asshole to get chicks. Just watch and take notes on the effective things.
     Think 40-Year-Old Virgin- that guy wasn't a jerk but he racked up the ladies in that movie using moves
     from idiots, not all the women were winners, but his confidence boost helped him get the right girl. It may be
     a hilarious movie but it makes a damn good point- rewatch it and get some chuckles.
1)You're too wishy-washy, Charlie Brown! Yup, I'm Lucy. Be who you are- don't change because you've got one girl on the brain. If she doesn't like you for you, it's not going to work out. Promise. Take a stand on things that matter to you. Again, you don't need to be a douche and insist your point is right. But don't waver just to flatter some red-haired girl who doesn't even give two turtleshits on the matter. I'm going to quote P!nk right now- "Do what you do, say what you say, mean what you mean when you say." Sing it, sister.
2) Treat me differently than other girls. A lot of nice guys will put 20 bazillion girls on a pedestal. That's a good thing, right? No. It's not. You need to find a girl worthy of your pedestal and will fight for it as you fight to be on her pedestal. Plus, if you hoist every girl up on a pedestal, you will continue to stand where you are- ground zero. No girl will date beneath her. That's just silly. You need her to hoist you up on her pedestal so you're both special to each other.
3) I'm not perfect, just like you. When "nice" guys find a girl worthy, they see them as 100% perfect. But let's revisit my initial point- no one's perfect. Please do not treat me like I'm perfect. That's a hell of a lot of pressure to be perfect 24:7. Plus, no conflict leads to no growth and thus, stagnant boredom. AND you bet your bottom dollar I do see all of your flaws which makes me feel like a jerk in comparison to you seeing me as perfect. You don't have to hate my imperfections, just see them. They're there. Promise.
4) Just because you're nice, doesn't mean you're right for me. What if the Little Red-haired Girl hates baseball? That's ok. It just means that Charlie Brown and the LRG were not meant to be. Remember making a jigsaw puzzle and you have a bump piece and a hole piece? Not every bump fits into every hole (my drty mind just died laughing). And just because you bring roses, or cuddle, or want to talk about your feelings, doesn't automatically mean you're the salt of the Earth for every girl. For example, I'm a fat kid and if I've had a bad day and you come over with chips and shut-up while I watch Alfred Hitchcock and eat the entire bag, you can probably hang around. You're different from other dudes so look for a chick that's different from other girls and matches you.

That will be 500 bucks, please (no, not 5 cents- inflation's a bitch).