The Ties that Bind

Have you ever found the perfect area rug only to be disappointed that it doesn’t come in the size you need? You can always have the rug professionally cut down and bound.  The prices vary depending on your location but, here in the Chicago area, the price for cutting and binding one side starts at about $100.00. You may need to have more than one side cut and bound if you have a symmetrical pattern.  Check out how Greg and Ashley of Seventh House on the Left customized the rug in their foyer.

If you’re like me, you find the perfect rug in the correct size but the price blows your budget.   Because, let’s be honest, if money wasn’t an issue, you’d have no problem shopping for rugs (or anything else for that matter.)  But rugs are expensive.  And, I have dogs.  Many, many dogs.  It isn’t practical to pay mega bucks on something that will most likely be hit with doggy vomit (or worse) and covered in hair. I need something that pleases me aesthetically but doesn’t break the bank.  So, I needed to come up with some way to self-bind my rugs.

Please forgive the bad cellphone pics.  At the time that I did this, I had misplaced the battery chargers for my cameras.

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First, you’ll need a rug.  I don’t recommend doing this to an expensive rug.  The above rug was on clearance at Target for $6.99.  I think the most I have spent for a rug that I was planning on cutting and binding was $40.00.

Next, you’ll need a hot glue gun, lots of glue sticks, a heavy-duty scissors and a coordinating ribbon or binding tape that is 2″ wide.  To determine the length of ribbon you’ll need, add about 1″ to the length of your cutting line.  The type of ribbon you pick will depend on the type of rug you are using.  I’m using a woven, strap-type ribbon because my rug is a loosely woven, natural material. Grosgrain ribbon also works very well for binding.  Most of the time, you will want your ribbon to be the same color as the other binding on your rug.  If there is no visible binding, then I would choose a color that matched the background color of the rug.  I’m picking a contrasting black ribbon because I trying to match black accents in our foyer.

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Trim the edges of the ribbon so they are square.  If your ribbon is a big weave like mine, you can dab a small amount of hot glue on the edge so that it doesn’t unravel.

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If your ribbon is thinner, you can turn the edges under 1/4″ and glue down.

Here is how mine looked when I finished applying the glue to the edges.   You just want a thin coat of glue.

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Measure and cut your rug.

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If your rug is a long shag, you need to trim down the pile as close to the backing as possible for a 1/4″ line along your edge.

If your rug is loosely woven, like mine, you may need to remove a row or two of the weave.

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Flip the rug over to the wrong side.  Run a thick, 6″ long bead of glue along the end of the rug, about 1/4″ in from the edge.  If yours is loosely woven, you want your glue to be on the first complete row.

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Press the edge of the ribbon down into the glue and hold until it no longer feels hot.  Keep working in 6″ increments until the entire ribbon is glued to the back of the rug.  Turn the rug over to the front side.  Apply glue to the front in the same fashion as you did to the back, folding the ribbon down to cover the rough edge of the rug.17

Once the ribbon is completely attached, apply a small amount of glue to the inside edges of the corners and press until cool.

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Voilà:  you’re done!

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I’ve bound a number of rugs in my home.  All are in high-traffic areas and they have held up for over a year.  I even hosed down and scrubbed one rug outside and the binding held.  You can always reglue any areas that you notice the binding coming loose.

How is this Possible?

I came across this picture while I was browsing my Reader feed.  It’s from Kathryn Finney’s (The Budget Fashionista) post about the Republican National Convention.


I don’t question the fact that this exists – freedom of speech and all, but I question what the sign means.  I’m not a super political person and am not as informed as I should be.  I have my beliefs and I don’t spread them around.  I’m all for other people shouting their beliefs out.  I like to ponder ideas that are opposite of my own.  It opens up my brain and makes me verify that my ideas are good for me.  So, I don’t really want this to be a political thread.  Not that all (read zero) the readers of this blog will respond, anyway.

It’s been 24 hours since I saw this sign.  I still don’t get it and trust me, I’ve been thinking about it.  I finally asked David because he actually watches the news and reads the newspaper, unlike me who finds most of those things depressing or boring.  David’s guess* was that if LBGT people know national secrets, then they could be blackmailed by our country’s enemies to reveal those secrets.  Hmmmh.  Blackmailed how?  He explained that the enemy would threaten to “out” the LBGT if they didn’t spill our country’s beans.  This assumes that they aren’t “out” already.

Does that make sense to you?  It doesn’t make sense to me.  Don’t the people who made this sign realize that if we didn’t have a bias against LBGTs then there would be no fuel for the blackmail?  That the sign-makers’ bias is the reason for the threat to national security?

Are the sign-makers suggesting that the government have some sort of “outing” test for their employees?  If so, what would that test entail?  This is a sexual matter, plain and simple.  How do you prove that the opposite sex turns you on?  Would employees be required to prove that they have had sexual relationships with people of the opposite sex?  The possible testing procedures that are pouring through my mind are scary.

I would like to think that sexual testing would never happen.  I don’t even know if David’s theory is correct.  I know that there are people who don’t approve of LBGTs.  This bias is most often because of religious reasons.  Religion is a personal thing and you are allowed to believe whatever the hell you want.  However, the extrapolation of religious beliefs that must take place in order for this sign to be made, is exponential.

 

 

*I’m assuming his guess is correct because I can find no other explanation for the statement.  David could be wrong and there is a much more reasonable explanation.  If so, comment below because I would love to hear it.

 

I Guess I’m Late to the Stanky Legg Party

While browsing through failbook.com I came across this:

What is this stanky leg of which she speaks?  I can guess based on context but, off to Google I went.   Urbandictionary.com says that it is a “dance where you stick out your leg and rotate it around.”   Like the Hokey Pokey?  I needed to see this so the first video I clicked on was the following.  It has louder rap music (that repeats “stanky legg”) so you might want to turn your volume down. 

I was mesmerized.  Really.  It’s amazing.  I don’t really know why I can’t stop looking at it.  That girl with the white pants has some talent.   By the way, I still don’t know what stanky legg means (and I sure as hell can’t do it), but at least I have the correct spelling.

Love your people, people

Later today, I will be going to the funeral services for this young boy.   I’m not sure how his parents and family will ever recover.  Hug your children.  If you have no children, hug all the people you love today.

Edited:  I’m back from the funeral.  The father commented that he googled his son’s name.  It saddened him that the only results were about his death.  He wished people would read about what a wonderful boy he was.  If you can, however few people read this blog, please pass the word about Tony.  I so want to grant his father’s wish.

Brown Butter and Currant Muffins

I ran across baskets of currants at the local farmers’ market. The cherry red orbs were gorgeous and luminescent. Tart, with a small, hard seed, currants can be served as-is or used in jams and pies. They are often dried and used just like raisins in recipes. Though dried currants are tarter than sweet raisins. Currants grow on bushes in grape-like clusters. In the Chicago area, you have a very short window of opportunity to buy fresh currants. So, if you see some for sale, grab them because they won’t be around for long.

I brought two baskets of currants home. I knew I wanted to make some jelly but I had more than enough for something baked. I’ve been playing with brown butter lately and thought the tartness of the currants would play nicely with the rich, nutty, caramel flavor of brown butter. Hence, I arrived at Brown Butter and Currant Muffins.

First brown 1/2 cup of butter. Place the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir continuously. A foam will appear and the butter will cackle as the water in the butter evaporates.

The foam will begin to disappear. Continue stirring and watching the butter, as you don’t want it to burn.

The butter will begin getting darker until it is a medium brown color. It will continue to cook if it remains in the hot pan. Transfer it to another container and set aside to cool.

Whisk together 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and two eggs.

Add the cooled, brown butter.

Mix in 1/3 cup of sour cream that is at room temperature.

Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Set the mixture aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cup of flour, 2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, being careful not to over mix.

You will end up with a thicker batter. Not as thick as a cookie batter but not as thin as a cake batter.  If it seems too thick, add one tablespoon of milk.  If it seems too thin, add 1 tablespoon of flour.  If you feel the urge, take a spoonful of the batter and taste the deliciousness. I could sit down and eat the entire bowl of batter, it is that good.

Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill tin half full with batter and top with currants. Press the currants down a little so that they are seated in the batter and aren’t just rolling around on top. The thickness of the batter will keep the currants on top of the muffins as they bake, creating a small, flat muffin. The seeds in the currants will add a crunch to the muffin top.

Cook at 35o degrees for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy with fresh, hand churned butter.  If you don’t have currants, blueberries also work nicely with this batter.  Or, you can just leave the tops plan.  The batter is marvelous all on its own.

Brown Butter and Currant Muffins

1/2 cup of butter

1/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 eggs

1/3 cup of sour cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 1/4 cup of flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

1 cup of red currants

Brown 1/2 cup of butter by placing the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir continuously as butter easily burns. A foam will begin to appear and the butter will cackle as the water in the butter evaporates.  The foam will disappear. Continue stirring and watching the butter it will begin to get darker until it is a medium brown color. Transfer it to another container and set aside to cool.

Whisk together 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and two eggs.  Add the cooled, brown butter. Mix in 1/3 cup of room temperature sour cream. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Set the mixture aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cup of flour, 2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, being careful not to over mix.

You will end up with a thicker batter. Not as thick as a cookie batter but not as thin as a cake batter.  If it seems too thick, add one tablespoon of milk.  If it seems too thin, add 1 tablespoon of flour.

Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill tin half full with batter and top with currants. Press the currants down a little so that they are seated in the batter and aren’t just rolling around on top.

Cook at 35o degrees for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy.  Blueberries also work nicely with this batter or, you can just leave the tops plan.  The batter is marvelous all on its own.

All for a Stranger

Source

Recently, I witnessed some online acquaintances’ amazing compassion for a complete stranger.  But, more on that in a bit.  First, the back-story.  I am going to be vague about the specifics because, well, you’ll see why.

I’ve been following a blogger for about two years.  I began following her because she wrote about a particular sport in which I was interested.  She posted a few times a month about the sport, her experiences doing it in Chicago and links to news articles about the sport.  About five months ago, her life began to take a downward turn in almost every way possible.  Her employment contract ended and she was forced to take a much less desirable position.  She then had to downsize her living arrangements which caused her to move farther away from her support network.  Next, she was hit by a car and the injuries made it very difficult and painful to do her sport.  While being treated for her injuries, her boyfriend decided to breakup with her for another woman.  Her injuries made it difficult, if not impossible, for her to workout, so she started to gain weight.  Do you see what I’m telling you?  Her life took a very severe twist in a relatively short amount of time.

I do not know this woman.  The above was learned through her blogging.  For the past couple of months, her blogging changed.  She began describing herself as a loser.  She repeated wrote about her ex and asked for clarification as to why it happened.  She stating she wished the car had finished it’s job.  That last one had me concerned.  I felt I should do something.  I had every intention of writing her a compassionate note.  Her email was not listed so a comment would have to suffice.  I never got around to commenting and her next post was somewhat back to normal.  I continued to read her angst which was peppered among news of the sport.  I repeatedly wished for her to find peace in her situation.

Then, a week ago things took a turn for the worse.  When I logged onto Reader, I noted a new post from this woman entitled “Goodbye . . .”  I clicked on the link and read her two sentence post.  She stated she was going to finish the job the driver started in February and that she was tired of being alive.  Okay.  Now this was serious.  I checked and saw that the post was written the previous evening.  I, again, looked to see if I could locate an email or some other way to contact the woman.  There was nothing.  I wondered, “Should I call the police?”  I didn’t t know her last name or address so I doubted the Chicago Police would do anything.  I didn’t even know if anything she had written was true.  But, I was torn; I needed to do something!

So, I did what every normal person does and I raised the question on an artists forum that I belong to.  Okay, probably very few people would do that .  But, I knew of at least one person on the forum who was connected to a police department.  Perhaps they would be able to tell me if the police can help with so little information.

Almost immediately, I started receiving responses that I needed to call the police.  Please remember that this woman had recently moved from her downtown apartment.   I had no idea where she moved and if she was still in Chicago or a suburb.  Therefore, I called my local (non-Chicago) police department to see about the protocol of such a report.  I was informed that I should call Chicago.  I did call Chicago but they told me they could do nothing without more information.  They suggested I contact the blog’s publishing provider. The provider is Google.  You can’t just call Google.  There is no phone number, anywhere.  So, I went to a Google support forum and posted the question there.  Eventually, my question and the blog information was forwarded to “the appropriate department.”   I have yet to hear back from them.

In the meantime, my artist forum friends were busy at work.  They looked through her flickr account and discovered her name printed on a name tag she was wearing in one photo.  She has a very common name.  They then discovered the exact address of her work location (a university) based on another photo.  So, I had a name and a work location.  I called the Chicago Police again.  I was on hold for 20 minutes.  In those 20 minutes, an out-of-state artist who used to live near the university called the university police.  They said they would do a wellness check on her at her job. We never heard back from the police.

Another artist continued to view the (3000 photo) flickr account for more information.  She found an email of someone who appeared to be the woman’s friend.  The artist emailed the friend and the friend said he would contact the woman’s attorney.

We haven’t heard anything from anyone about the status of this woman.  Not that we really expected to, but we were hoping.  It has been a week and the woman has not blogged again.

I do not know if the information we had was current.  I do not know if the threat was real.  I do know that a group of women banned together and spent hours trying to locate a perfect stranger.  To help her.  To save her.   I can only hope we weren’t too late.

Sliding Spice Cabinet

This is my spice cabinet.  Now, in this and the following photos, you may notice that I am the lucky owner of some “European” 1990’s cabinets.   Don’t be jealous.  I know you all want them but they are mine.   Mine . . . mine . . . sob . . .  You know your cabinets are bad when you covet other people’s “before” cabinets.

Anyway, back to the spice cabinet.  It’s hell.  I bought those white, pull-out things thinking that would solve all my problems.  Hardly.  When I slide the white thing out, whatever is on the right side of the cabinet falls behind the white thing so that I can’t close it.  It’s a nightmare.  Well, it’s a first world problem, that’s for sure.

So, have you seen this?

Yeah, I want this.  I’ve had a similar picture in my dream kitchen folder for over two years.  Then it hit me – I can make this!  Okay, not exactly this but something equally functional and it can go in my weird lower cabinet:

Please don’t notice the dirty floor boards.  I swear I did a thorough cleaning of the entire kitchen when I was done with this project.

This cabinet is very narrow and quite deep.  It is only 8 1/2″ wide and 22 3/4″ deep.  My husband stores a plethora of grilling accoutrements on the top shelf.  I tried to store all of our olive oils and vinegars in the bottom area but most of our bottles are taller than the space allowed (11 1/2″).  I also have to get on my hands and knees to reach anything in the back of the cabinet.  It is quite awkward.

So, on to a newer, easier spice solution.  First, I would like to make a disclaimer.  I am not a carpenter.  I also hope to redo this 1990’s throwback of a kitchen in a couple of years (when the last stepgirl finishes college.)  So, whatever I build now does not have to be beautiful.  It just needs to be functional and sturdy-enough.  My work here is crappy.  It has a bunch of ugliness that a real carpenter would just laugh at and label as shoddy workmanship.  I know it and am okay with it.  My work has held together for a while now and, despite the ugliness, it works.  That being said, this is what I did and I’m just giving you the basic info.  Your cabinet will most likely be a different size than mine.  Also, my top shelf slides out which makes this project so much easier.  If you don’t have such a shelf, you can install sliding guides and make a top shelf.  I’m not going to go into the installation of the guides here.  It is fairly complicated because it involves a lot of measuring to make sure each side is level and plumb to each other.  I hate installing guides.  Especially in weird, narrow cabinets.

First, clean out the cabinet (and all the crap that you find in the back, like one pencil inside a sandwich bag and a 1970’s harvest gold egg timer.)  Then measure your opening.

We are going to make a box that will be attached to the sliding drawer.  It will also have casters underneath it to support its weight.  Your box will end up looking something like this:

I used lumber that I found in my scrap pile.  I don’t want to spend money on this project ’cause, remember?  This is temporary.  If I had a nice kitchen, I would use more uniform pieces of wood than I am using.  For the bottom, I used a scrap piece of a 8’x10″x1″.  I cut it down to be one inch less than the width and depth of my cabinet.  That way, the box will have 1/2″ between it and the opening of the cabinet.  Next, I cut the sides for the front and back of the box.  They are the same measurement as the width of the bottom board.  I’m using MDF but regular white wood would work fine.  I would recommend using a board that was around 2″ wide for all the sides.  That will give you enough of a lip to stop things from jumping off the box when you are sliding it but it should be low enough to easily see your smaller spice bottles.

Apply wood glue to all surfaces before screwing together.  Attach the front and back sides to the bottom by screwing through the bottom into the sides.  Be sure to pre-drill and countersink your holes.  All of my boards are 1″ thick so I’m using 1 1/2″ screws.

See that cracked MDF board?

Yeah, that’s because I didn’t pre-drill it.  Normally, I would throw that board away  and cut a new one.  But, I’m keeping it as-is for this project which against my grandma’s advise of , “If you are going to do something, do it well.”   I agree with Grandma, but it was 105 degrees in my garage and this . . . is . . . temporary.

Next, you will measure the distance between your two side boards.  That will be the length of the right and left side boards.

Attach the side boards.

Why, yes.  Yes, my side boards are all different heights.  How nice of you to notice.  I totally don’t recommend this.  But, hello?  105 degrees.  Temporary.

After you screw the right and left side onto the bottom, screw through the front and back into the sides to hold everything together.   Next, we install the casters.  You want the kind that have screw holes, not the kind that have posts.  I bought the smallest casters I could find at my little, around the corner, hardware store.  They were $4.99 and I had a $5.00 off any purchase coupon.  I think I paid $.35 which represents the tax. 

Install one caster at both of the back corners.  My casters swivel.  If yours don’t, be sure to place the wheels so they are facing in the correct direction and move along the length of the cabinet.  I marked the holes, pre-drilled and then screwed the casters on.

Install the other two casters about halfway down the length of the bottom.

Next, bring your box into your air conditioned house and insert it into the cabinet.  Grab a glass of water to hydrate.

Measure from the bottom of the inside of the box to the bottom of the upper shelf.  That will be the length of the boards which will attach the bottom box to the upper shelf.  Cut four boards that length.  Next, we will attach those boards to each corner of the box.

Screw the attachment board to the side board.  Make sure it is at a right angle with the bottom.  I screwed one screw into each attachment board from the inside of the box and then two through the bottom into the attachment board.

You can see that I marked my bottom board to show the width of the side boards.  That way, I could figure out where my attachment boards where in order to screw into their bottoms.  Does this make any sense?  I hope so.

After the attachment boards are, well, attached, bring the box back into the kitchen and put it into the cabinet.  Mark the front of your box.  Does it slide in easily or does it get stuck?  If it gets stuck, as mine did in the back, you may have to remove the sticking attachment boards and cut off a tiny bit.  My top shelf wasn’t level so the back boards were too high.  I cut them down 1/8″ and re-attached them and then they fit fine.

Here is the finished build after I spray primed it.  Obviously, if you are doing this for a permanent installation, you would want to fill all the screw holes and sand all the boards.  I did not bother doing either of these things.  This is a case of do as I tell you not as I do.

After the primer was dry, I chose to spray mine black flat on the outside and satin on the inside.  I’m hoping the satin will be easier to clean if anything spilled inside the box.  I already had both of these cans of paint.  I chose black to help hide all the errors of  my build.  After three thin coats of paint, the box was ready to install in the cabinet.  Yeah!  Air conditioning!

Installation was fairly easy.  I slid the box into the cabinet making sure the end marked front was actually in the front of the cabinet.  I centered the box under the top shelf and marked where the front attachment boards met the bottom of the shelf.  I then removed both pieces from the cabinet and lined up the marks with the boards, made sure the back boards were centered on the bottom of the shelf and screwed through the bottom of the shelf into the attachment boards.

Then, insert the top shelf into its guides.  Test to make sure it glides easily.  If not, you will determine where it is sticking and make adjustments to the length of the attachment boards.

Then, wipe it down and fill it with spices.

As you can see, I labeled the tops of my frequently-used spices for easy finding.

So far, the cabinet has held up great and I love the ease of finding my spices.  The whole project took about two hours which includes paint drying time.  It was definitely worth the time spent!