Archive for September, 2010

Sep 24 2010

Dry shampoo.

Published by under Beauty

Before I start, let me add a brief disclaimer: I am fully ready to admit that I might have done something wrong here. I mean, the instructions were pretty clear-cut, and I don’t see how I could have bungled them, but I know that is a possibility. I can only write about my experience, which sucked. OK. Disclaimer OUT.

I was cruising around the internet today before I got in the shower. I am not a quick starter in the morning. I like to meander. So, I’m clicking around, and I happen on this article about making your own dry shampoo from stuff around the house, for those days when you can’t or don’t want to wash your hair. The article I read billed dry shampooing as a quick alternative to a shower when you just don’t have the time to wash/dry/style your head in the morning. PLUS: it’s totally green, you guys! You are cleaning yourself with corn products, which are natural and not full of unpronounceable chemicals. It must be better!

Basically, the article boiled down to: sprinkle some stuff in your hair and brush it out. The “stuff” they recommended was corn meal, or corn starch, or ground oats. Or a mix! I did have both corn meal and corn starch on hand, so I decided to do a 50/50 mix of these items and see what happened. The article promised that this would be easy, albeit a little messy, and would leave me with soft, shiny hair.

So, I mixed up 1 tbsp. of corn starch and 1 tbsp. of corn meal (2 tbsp. being the recommended “dosage” for normal length hair) and headed to the bathroom. I took the precaution of moving the rugs to one side, and started sprinkling corn products into my hair. It was unpleasant. I got corn meal in my eyes. I got corn stuff on the floor, in the sink, and on my pajamas. A lot of it DID end up in my hair, so I dutifully (as instructed) massaged my scalp, then brushed my hair to spread the mix through. That really gave my hair the coveted “just escaped from a building demolition” ashy look. I let my hair alone for two minutes (as instructed) to let the corn mix really grab onto the grease in my hair. Then, I turned my head upside down over the sink and started brushing root-to-tip to remove the mix from my hair.

And I brushed. And I brushed. And I brushed. I flipped my head around and brushed from another angle. I flipped it around the other way. I brushed more. I flipped my hair back upright and realized that instead of the ash-drenched look, I now just looked like I had really bad dandruff. I could see tiny corn starch particles still clinging to every follicle of hair.

I brushed some more. And some more. And even more. I looked in the mirror again: still gross. Not only that, but the whole sink and floor was littered with corn residue. My brush was also clogged with corn starch/meal. THIS is supposed to save me time in the morning? Between the 1000 brush strokes apparently needed to get the gunk out of my hair, and the clean up time that will be required to get the stuff off the floor and out of the sink, not to mention off my brush, wouldn’t I have been better off just washing my hair and sticking it into a ponytail?

In the end, that’s what I did. I got in the shower, squirted some chemical death on my head, massaged it around, rinsed it out, and was done. Ten minutes in the shower meant clean hair, clean body, and no extra clean up. Ten minutes with dry shampoo doesn’t even come close. If you’re really that pressed for time, just don’t wash your hair. Most people can get by with only washing their hair every other day.

One response so far

Sep 13 2010

Bookcase Spruce Up.

Published by under Life and Living It,Photos

When you walk into our house, the first room you land in is the formal dining room, which we don’t use. We don’t use it as a dining room, and since we hadn’t identified what else we wanted it to be, it’s mostly a dumping ground. However, this past weekend, we finally decided we’re going to turn it into a reading room/library. However, all our bookcases are either cheap particle board, or the board/brick variety. Neither really fit the feel of our home. I don’t have the money to spend on fancy new bookcases. So, I dug out a bunch of craft supplies and decided to see what I could do. I’m rather fond of the results. You might not be, but since what I’ve done is nothing more than painting and decoupage, it should be easy to change it up to suit your own needs.

I’m going to take you through what I used and what I did, and add in notes about what I might do differently on the next one. If you’ve tried this yourself, and have more wisdom to add, please leave a comment!

My Materials:

  • crappy particle board bookcase, about 3 ft. high
  • hardcover book that I will never read again
  • paper cutter
  • X-acto knife
  • Elmer’s Craft Bond spray adhesive
  • Mod Podge Hard Coat for furniture
  • sponge brush
  • Rustoleum Universal All-Surface spray paint

My Materials

Not pictured: sandpaper, a rag, rubber gloves, crappy clothes, cardboard box to put the case on while painting, masking tape, used paper to cover shelves while painting.

First, if you have a garage, do this project there. Open the doors, get a fan going, get some ventilation moving. If you don’t have a garage, do this outside, on the lawn, on a nice day. DO NOT do this project in your house or apartment. This is also probably not a good project for a humid day.

Also, wear long sleeves, long pants, rubber gloves, and a hat. Or maybe you’re one of those people who can use spray paint and spray glue and keep it only on the thing you’re painting/gluing. I am not one of those people. If you’re also not one of those people, COVER UP. Trust me. You might also consider a face mask to keep paint and glue out of your nose.


The first thing I did was give the bookcase a light sanding, just to rough up the surface a bit. I didn’t put a lot of effort into it. I just wanted to scratch up the glossy surface of the particle board. Then I wet my rag and wiped off the dust from the sanding, and dried the bookcase.

Next, I used masking tape to tape off the edges of the shelves. The shelves in this particular bookcase were secured to the frame, otherwise I would have just removed them. That would have been so much easier. As it is, I taped off the edges, then I used some printer paper (that had already been printed on and was in the recycle bin) to cover the shelves more thoroughly. I didn’t want to paint them; that would have been a waste.

After the shelves were masked, I used the Rustoleum to paint the rest of the case. Follow the instructions on whatever paint you decide to use. Every kind of paint is a little different. I used an entire can of Rustoleum to cover this case, and if I’d had another can, I would have used that as well. There are some places where you can still see the original faux wood grain beneath the paint.  For the bigger cases, I might try a roll-on kind of paint instead of buying 10 cans of spray paint. We’ll see.

I had to let the shelves dry for awhile. The kind of paint I used dries to the touch in 30 minutes. If the shelves had been removable, I would have just been able to start right in on them while the paint was drying, but I had to wait.


I wanted to cover the shelves in book pages. I used a hardcover book, one I’d read and knew I would never read again. I chose a hardcover because the pages are generally thicker than paperback pages. I thought that would be better both for coverage reasons and also for working with the decoupage medium.

I used the X-acto knife to cut the pages from the spine of the book. Then I used the paper cutter to trim away the margins so that all I had left was text.

Trimming the book pages

Once I had a good sized pile of trimmed pages, I spray glued the side of the page that was going to be down, and stuck it to the shelf. Not very high tech. I overlapped the pages a little bit, and wrapped them over the front edge of the shelf. (As a side note, pay attention to the kind of book you’re using, in terms of language. Probably no one is going to be reading the pages you use, but I wasn’t paying attention, and the word “shit” ended up on the front edge of one of my shelves. Not like I’m squeamish about swearing, but I wasn’t going for R-rated bookshelf, either).

Covering the shelves

Once I had all the shelves covered, and I waited a few minutes for the glue to set, I started painting the glued-down pages with Mod Podge Hard Surface (using a sponge brush).  The pages bubbled a little in places. This made me a little nervous. I tried to smooth the bubbles out, but it didn’t work too well. Luckily, as the Mod Podge dried, the pages flattened themselves out. I did about four coats of Mod Podge, waiting about 10 minutes between coats.

I should note that this is not the normal way to decoupage paper onto furniture. Normally, you coat the back of the paper with Mod Podge then smooth it onto the furniture, smoothing bubbles from the middle out, then coat the top with more Mod Podge as I did. I’m not sure why I decided to use the Elmer’s to glue the pages down instead, but I think it worked better in one area, and that is getting the pages to wrap around the edge of the shelf. Elmer’s Craft Bond is quite sticky, and held the pages around the shelves with no peeling up or pulling away.

Once I had all the shelves decoupaged, the paint was dry enough to “handle”, so I picked the thing up and carried it in to the house to finish drying in a climate controlled environment. Here’s what it looks like finished, with no books on it.

All done.

The drips that look like water marks on the second and third shelves are from an ill-fated attempt to use acrylic sealer instead of Mod Podge. I thought that maybe the sealer would give it a harder coat and dry glossy. As it turns out, not so much. Don’t be like me; stick with the Mod Podge. It really works better. I would have pasted more pages over the drippy ones, but since they’re just going to be covered by books anyway, I didn’t really care.

You might also notice the wood grain showing through on the back. Again, it’s going to be covered by books, so I don’t really care, but that is where another can of paint would really have come in handy.

I thought about adding some ribbon trim on the very top surface, just to give the whole thing more “pizazz” (and to cover up a finger mark – oops), but honestly I don’t think it would have matched very well. I may end up adding some gold trim later, either with gold leaf or gold spray paint. I haven’t entirely decided, but if I do, it will be simple – a stripe or a small curlicue stencil. It would be pretty easy to jazz this thing up a bit, if that’s where you wanted to go with it.

With books.

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Sep 12 2010

Here comes the fall.

Published by under House Renovs,Snippets

I can tell it’s getting to be fall, because I have a whole bunch of projects simmering in my mind, and I want to bake things. In the summer, I don’t even want to touch the oven, because no one needs a 350 degree box in their home on a 90 degree day. But I want to make cake, and bread, and pot roast.

The projects all involve things like caulking the windows shut with seasonal caulk, sprucing up the kitchen counters, painting the bookcases, turning the dining room into a library, and things of that sort. Nesting type of things. We did finally buy an electric fireplace and get that into the living room. That required removing the (rather large) loveseat, but I think the whole room looks nicer now.

The countertop spruce up I’m kind of interested in – I bought this paint which is supposed to make your counters look like granite. I can’t afford granite counters right now, and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to put them in without redoing the WHOLE kitchen.  I can spring for $60 paint though, so I did. The paint hasn’t arrived yet, but when it does, I’ll post some before/during/after pics.

Bookcase painting is a smaller project. That one I hope to get started on tomorrow, and I’ll post pics of that, too. I’m going to start with our small, crappy, particle board bookcase just to see how it goes.

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