STOP BEING GROSS AND CLEAN YOUR MAKEUP BRUSHES

You know what's pretty disgusting? Your face. (Burnnnnnnn) Our faces are covered in oil and dirt and all kinds of bacteria and then we touch brushes to our faces, let those brushes sit and fester for hours, and then put those brushes back on our faces. According to this Vogue Article, makeup brushes "accumulate bacteria, dust, and dirt, all of which permit the growth of further bacteria, which can aggravate underlying skin conditions like acne" (a topic of which I am intimately aware these days). While you can wash your brushes after every use, you seem lazy so I doubt you're going to do that. Instead, here is an all natural, homemade brush cleaner that can do the trick without drying out your brushes.






Materials:

Your gross dirty makeup brushes
A glass
A measuring cup and measuring spoons (or you can just eyeball it)
White vinegar
Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby-Mild Soap

Instructions:

Step 1: Mix one cup of warm water with one tablespoon vinegar and one tablespoon soap. Stir to combine.

Step 2: Dip one of your brushes into the solution and mix around to soak.

Step 3: Rinse brush under warm water and lay out on a clean towel to dry.

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each of your brushes.

Step 5: Let the brushes dry in a cool dry place on a clean towel for a few hours or overnight.  My bigger brushes, like my foundation and bronzer brushes, took a really long time to dry, about 24 hours.

Step 6: Use them and feel great about what a clean person you are!

HOW TO DRINK WINE OUT OF THE BOTTLE BUT IN A CLASSY WAY

The key here is to turn the bottles into drinking glasses (or if you have any other suggestions for how to drink from the bottle in a classy way, please contact me immediately). This is kind of a DIY cheat, since I used a kit I bought on Amazon, so it's more like a Do Kit Yourself (get it?) but I'm counting it. This is the kit I purchased, which I've found to work really well: Bottle Cutting Kit.  In addition, I have instructions here for how to get the labels off the bottles, and some other tricks to make this go smoothly. Also, to be filed under do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, you should probably use protective goggles and gloves, or don't, you crazy risk-taker, you.









Materials:
Wine bottles
OxiClean
Bucket
Scouring Sponges (like these: Scouring Sponge)
Bottle Cutting Kit
Matches
Ice

Instructions:

Step 1: Take the labels off the bottles. To do this, fill a bucket with water and put in a scoop or two of OxiClean.  Mix it around so the OxiClean dissolves. Put your wine bottles in the bucket and make sure they are submerged. This might involve holding them down until they fill with water. Leave them submerged for a few days (or longer). Pull off the label. Some labels come off easily while others are more difficult. The scouring sponge comes in handy for getting off any leftover label or glue residue. If you're having a lot of trouble getting the label off, put the bottle back in the water for a few more days.

Step 2: Set up the metal etcher from the Kit. With the butt of the bottle against the backstop, put pressure on the bottle while rotating it slowly in a circle. I have found that I can put a fair amount of pressure on the bottle without any problem, but experiment with how hard you push down the bottle as you rotate it. As you turn the bottle, make sure the butt of the bottle stays against the backstop or your cut won't come out evenly. Try to only make one revolution of the bottle against the etcher for the cleanest cut.

Step 3: Light the candle that comes in the Kit. Hold the bottle about 1/8 inch over the flame and rotate slowly 3-4 times. Then rotate the bottle one time quickly above the flame to get an even temperature all around.

Step 4: Hold a piece of ice against the etched cut in the bottle while rotating it 3-4 times.

Step 5: Dry the bottle and repeat Step 3 and Step 4.

Step 6: Hold the bottom of the bottle down while gently pulling up on the top of the bottle. It should come apart easily. If it does not, repeat Step 3 and Step 4 and try again. Do this as many times as you need to until the bottle comes apart easily.

Step 7: Rub the sandpaper against the cut edge of the bottom of the bottle. I also sandpapered the top of the bottle and figure I'll find a use for them eventually.

Step 8: You can also use the powder that comes in the Kit to get an even smoother edge. I used a picture frame from the dollar store for this purpose. Tap a little of the powder onto the glass of the frame (or other glass surface that you don't care about getting scratched up). Then dip your glass in water and rotate it along the glass surface with the powder until you no longer hear the unpleasant sound it makes.

Step 9: Gently feel the edges to make sure they are smooth. You don't want to invite guests over to try your new homemade wine bottle glasses and then cause your guests to gravely injure their face parts. Don't be that guy.

THESE CHAMPAGNE GLASSES WILL BREAK YOUR HEART

A couple of weekends ago, we had a mini-bachelorette-type shindig in Las Vegas for one of my favorite people on this planet. I wanted to add a personalized touch that reflected both the classiness of the beautiful girl we were celebrating and the gaudy opulence that is Las Vegas.  And, so, with that in mind, I embarked on a journey to glitter the heck out of some champagne glasses.

I found these instructions online that I chose to follow: Glitter Champagne Glasses. I grabbed the glittering items from Michaels and got champagne glasses at the dollar store (which were actually surprisingly nice and didn't even break when we decided to do 9 rounds of cheers'ing in a row).

When I started the project, the glasses looked awesome. Then, about 5 minutes later, they looked terrible. It was a heartbreaking emotional roller-coaster of glass and glitter, but I've tweaked the instructions to avoid those maddening pitfalls.  Despite all the heartbreak, I still highly recommend this project with the small fixes laid out below. Here are some pictures, followed by step-by-step instructions:









Materials:

Champagne Flutes
Glue
Glitter
Mod Podge
Paintbrush
Something to stop glitter and glue from taking over your home forever (such as a paper plate and/or aluminum foil)
[Ignore the blue glitter pen in the picture above, I thought it would be cute to write names or initials on the base of the flute for each of the girls but it turned out that was actually a pretty ugly idea.]

Instructions:

Step 1: Wash and fully dry the champagne flutes.

Step 2: Apply a thin layer of glue to the flute in an up-and-down motion, thinning out as you get to the top.  Or, if you want the glue to stop at a straight line, put masking tape around the flute making a line where you want the glue to stop and then apply the glue with a paintbrush.  I did not put glue on the stem, but you can if you want to.

Step 3: Put glitter on a plate or other surface and sprinkle on the glass with your fingers.  Or, tap the glitter onto the glass as you rotate it in your hand, but be sure to do this over a surface that can catch the extra glitter so that you don't get it all over the place.  Make sure to cover all of the glue.  It's ok if glitter ends up elsewhere on the glass, you can brush that off immediately or after you are done.

Step 4: Here is where HEARTBREAK #1 happened.  You need to let the glue dry for about 30 minutes.  I placed the glasses on a plate and then walked away to do something more interesting than watching glue dry.  When I came back 30 minutes later, the glue had dripped in such a way that there was gold glittered glue everywhere on the plate and glass except for the one part of the glass where I actually wanted it to be.  It looked like this:


I also had some glasses that were upside down on the plate and the same thing happened, but in the other direction.  After some experimenting, I realized the only way to prevent this problem is to put them one way on the plate (let's say right side up) for about 5 minutes, and then flip them to be upside down for 5 minutes, and to continue doing that for the full 30 minutes.  Not ideal, but better than having glasses that look like the picture above.

Step 5: Here is where HEARTBREAK #2 takes place: the glasses look super awesome after the glue dries.  They are glittery and shiny in all the right ways.  But you can't just use them like that, since then the glitter will fall off onto anything touching it or near it or even thinking about entering its vicinity.  So, you have to add Mod Podge to keep things tight.  Use your paintbrush to apply a layer of Mod Podge over the glitter.

Step 6: Time for HEARTBREAK #3. Mod Podge goes on opaque but dries clear because MAGIC.  Hence, I liberally applied Mod Podge over the glitter in a fairly mindless way. This, it turns out, was a mistake.  Even though it dries clear, you can still see where it has been applied. Which is ugly. This picture might be hard to see, but it looks like this: 


Fortunately, there is an easy fix, which is to be very careful about applying the Mod Podge so that you really only cover the parts where there is glitter.

Step 7: Let the Mod Podge dry for about 2 hours.  Which takes us back to HEARTBREAK #2.  They look slightly less glittery perfect after the Mod Podge than before.  But, the flip side is that you won't be finding glitter in your carpet and hair and clothes for the next 2 years so it seems like a reasonable trade off.

And, finally, HEARTBREAK #4: These are either single-use champagne glasses or a-pain-in-the-ass-to-clean champagne glasses.  My understanding is that Mod Podge is not water proof. A quick google search makes it seem like you can get an extra thing you put on top to make it water proof, but that seems like a lot of effort for dollar store champagne glasses.  So, you either have to wash them very carefully so that the outside doesn't get wet, or you have to accept the fact that they are not going to last you very long. I haven't tried washing off all the glue and glitter entirely, but I imagine that is not going to go well.

All of that said, all of the heartbreaks are incredibly easy to fix (other than the last one) and this is a fairly cheap project that came out looking pretty nice in the end.  So I recommend it!

A GENIUS WAY TO DESIGN A SALON WALL THAT I CAME UP WITH ALL ON MY OWN

The night that my wonderful husband proposed to me in Central Park, he also surprised me with a stay at The Nomad hotel, which had just opened and was supes hip. During one of the few moments I was able to take my eyes off of that sparkly rock on my finger, I noticed that the room was beautifully decorated and then cursed myself for having no innate sense of design style. Lucky for me, what I lack in decor creativity I make up for in my ability to vaguely copy something I see that I think looks cool.

The easiest and cheapest way to Nomad the crap out of my house was to add a salon wall in the living/dining room (it's a small house, otherwise known as "open concept"). The first step was easy, acquiring various pieces of art and putting them in frames. We spent about a month doing this, finding good deals online and perusing local flea markets. Then we came to the difficult part: taking the pile of framed photos and paintings from our floor and putting them on the wall in a way that made sense. Keep in mind that I completely lack the ability to imagine something accurately in my head. I need to see something before I can tell you if it's good or terrible. If mirrors weren't a thing and I was also famous and there were magazines with pictures of famous people but no digital cameras that I could use to take pictures of myself that I could review instantly, then I'd be a permanent fixture on the tabloids' worst dressed lists.

This is where this story really pivots: I had the greatest idea of all time for how to make my salon wall look good.  Either that, or I had an idea that a million other people have had and I just thought it was genius and original because I didn't bother googling how to do it in advance.  But if it's the latter, please don't tell me, this story is really important to my sense of self worth.  Here is a picture of the final product and instructions, but no pictures of the various steps because I was too overcome with self-pride to remember to snap some shots along the way.


Materials:

Roll of large paper
Measuring tape
Actual tape
Scissors
Pencil
Nails
Hammer
Art
Wall

Steps:

1. Measure the size of the wall space that you are using for your salon wall.

2. Take the rolled paper and cut and tape it so that it is the same size as the wall space you will be using.

3. Find a space where you can lay out the wall-sized paper flat. Place your art pieces on the paper and move them around until you find an arrangement that you like. One thing we realized made a big difference was to intersperse the frame colors (for example, you can see we put the white frames in opposite corners and then mixed up the gold/beige frames so they weren't too close together). We also liked to mix photos with paintings with unframed items so that there weren't clear delineations between different types of art. These might seem obvious to you, but if they don't, then you're a lot like me.

4. Once you have an arrangement that you like, use the pencil to mark on the paper where the nails should go. This takes a little bit of estimation since you're trying to put the pencil marks behind the pieces of art. One way to make it a little more exact is to feel behind the art for where the nail should go, leave your finger there when you remove the art piece, and then draw a spot where your finger is. Again, this might be obvious to you, but if it is, then you probably haven't read this far anyway. Also, make sure to write some description of each piece of art near where the nail markings are so you know where to put what when you're done. I found it helpful to draw outlines of the art and then write a description of the piece in the outline.

5. Remove all of the art and tape the paper onto the wall space you are using. Then just hammer nails into the pre-marked spots.  Once you are done adding the nails, rip the paper off around one of the sets of nails and hang that piece of art. Then rip more paper off where the next set of nails are and hang that piece. Keep in mind that if you rip off all the paper immediately, you might not remember where each piece is supposed to go. Alternatively, you could arrange the art on the floor in the right order and then hang it that way. Whatever you prefer, I'm not the boss of you.

The end!  Now would be a good time to invite people over to praise your amazing sense of style.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE IN A JAR BECAUSE WHY NOT

Our friends Jack and Julia (here's your promised shout out, Julia, use the fame this blog will bring you for good not evil) came over this weekend so that we could meet their new dog West and try to force all 88 pounds of her into our pool to see if she likes to swim (which, apparently, she does not).  One of my favorite things about having people over is having an excuse to try new recipes and hear them tell me how good it is even when it isn't because my friends are nice people.

As I was putting together a grocery list to take to the market, my husband muttered something about strawberry shortcake (subtle). Lucky for him, both my hearing and my general wifeliness (autocorrect from "wifeyness") are great, so I did him a solid and grabbed the strawberries and other ingredients. But strawberry shortcake in itself is not that cool, I needed to jazz it up. And then it hit me. You know what's better than strawberry shortcake??  Strawberry shortcake IN A JAR! Because everything is better in a jar (science). So that's what I did, and it was delightful. Here is photographic proof:





I adapted from this recipe: StrawberryShortcake.

Materials:

Stand Mixer, Hand Mixer, or Serious Bicep Power
A few mixing bowls
8x8 Baking Dish
4-6 Jars (depending on how full you want the jars to be)

Ingredients:

1 container of strawberries (or 1 1/2 lbs if buying loose)
10 tablespoons of sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Instructions:

Step 1: Remove the stems of the strawberries and cut them in quarters (or smaller, depending on your preference).  Toss the strawberries in 3 tablespoons of sugar and place in the refrigerator to macerate while you cook the shortcake.

Step 2: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3: Mix together the four, baking power, baking soda, salt, and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream and mix until it is just combined (don't over mix).  It will be very crumbly, that is fine.

Step 4: Place the flour mixture in the (ungreased) 8x8 baking dish and spread out with your hands so its even. Bake until golden, 18-20 minutes.

Step 5: Remove baked shortcake from the baking dish and place on drying rack to cool.

Step 6: While the shortcake is cooling, make the whipped cream. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, the vanilla, and the lemon zest into a bowl (the bowl of your stand mixer if you're using one or a mixing bowl if not). Mix on medium until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Do not, like I did, go do something else and forget about the whipped cream. That's how you get accidental custard (which still tastes good but changes the whole dynamic).

Step 7: Roughly chop up the shortcake into approximately 1 inch squares. Fill each jar about 1/3 of the way with the shortcake. You can push it down a little to fit it all in, but don't squish it in there too much. Then spoon some of the whipped cream on top of the shortcake. Top it off with a few spoons of the strawberries.

Step 8: EAT! You can eat it immediately or cover the jars and put them in the refrigerator for later (which I did and it still tasted delicious).

And because you've been such good little reader(s), you get a treat, in the form of a picture of West weighing the pros and cons of the pool life:

"IN LOVING MEMORY" OR A LESS DEPRESSING WEDDING SIGN

So, I got married. The theme of my wedding started out as "DIY" and ended as "who has the time for this shit, let's buy everything but maybe make one or two things as an homage to our previous theme." So I made a bunch of signs and they were really easy but looked nice and now all my friends talk about how I did so many cute projects for my wedding. Because they're my friends and they love me and point out my successes even when those successes are minimal. Here is what the end result looked like:


Here is how the magic happened:

Materials:

Wood frame (like this: MichaelsWoodFrame)
Paint color of choice for the frame (pink pictured above)
Paintbrush
Chalkboard paint (I used Krylon chalkboard spray paint)
Chalk
White Sharpie paint pen

Instructions:

Step 1: Paint the wood frame in the color of your choice.  I would do a few coats so you can't see the wood underneath.

Step 2: Take the plastic sheet that comes with the frame (that you would typically put a picture behind) and spray paint it with the chalkboard paint. Be sure to cover your noise/mouth so you don't poison yourself. Leave out to dry in between coats. I would suggest three coats.

Step 3: While everything is drying, find a cool font that you want to use. I went on dafont.com for these signs and downloaded a few wedding-fancy fonts. Then type the text you want to write on the sign into Word in your font of choice.

Step 4: Once everything is fully dried, use the chalk to write out the language you want on the sign in the font you chose, using the Word document version as a guide. Make as many changes as you need, you'll be washing the chalk off eventually.

Step 5: Once you have everything sketched out in chalk, use the paint pen to go over the words. Go slowly, the paint pen doesn't erase like the chalk.  Let the paint dry and then use a wet cloth to wash off the chalk.

Step 6: Instagram it, because you're awesome.

I BUILT THE WORLD'S EASIEST BENCH

My favorite kind of project is one that looks/sounds far more impressive than it actually is. It's why I love my bread maker. Saying I made my own bread sounds SUPER impressive. It evokes images of me arising while it's still dark to knead for hours, all while cutely covered in smears of flour. In reality, I measure out 6 ingredients, dump them into the bread maker, and go watch 4 hours of West Wing reruns.

This is what I found so enticing about this bench project. I can forever say that I built a bench. I can even say I built a bench that looks exactly like the pinterest pictures. In reality, I just painted some cement, stacked it, and tossed some wood through it. For those of you who learn by reading, that sentence should have explained exactly how to make this bench. But for you visual learners out there, here are some pictures. I would give step-by-step instructions, but I don't want to insult your intelligence.






Actually, I don't really care about offending you, I'm trying to run a blog here.  Here are my instructions:

Materials:

Paint color of your choice
Paint roller
Some sort of floor : paint barrier, like newspaper
10 cinder blocks*
4 pieces of wood (4x4)

Instructions:

Step 1: Paint outside of cinder blocks. You can paint the inside too, but we live in the San Fernando Valley and it was 102 degrees out, so we convinced ourselves it looks better this way. We've tried to turn "it has a DIY look" into a positive attribute and not how you describe something that was clearly not built by a professional.

Step 2: Once the paint has dried, stack the cinder blocks in your desired location. For each "leg" of the bench, place three cinder blocks next to each other vertically. Place another cinder block vertically on top of the far cinder block to make the back of the bench.  Place one cinder block horizontally on top of the two front cinder blocks.

Step 3*: Place one wood plank through the holes of the top cinder blocks to make the back of the bench. Place the remaining three wood planks through the holes of the next row (first full row) of cinder blocks. That is a terrible explanation but I'm trying to explain how to put wood through holes without succumbing to the overwhelming urge to make a "that's what she said" joke. So just follow the picture.

Step 4: Tell everyone you know that you made a bench.

Step 5: Buy a cushion for it. You can find some cool ones on amazon or at World Market. Or check my future post on how to sew a bench cushion, when I get around to first figuring out how to do that and also writing about it.

*We did a little riff on the typical bench set-up by putting a back on it. The version I usually see would use 12 cinder blocks and 4 pieces of wood. Each side would have four cinder blocks stacked next to each other vertically and two horizontally placed on top. The four pieces of wood would go through the top four openings.