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April 23, 2011

Travel Safely: Create your own DIY first aid kit for the road |

I've been thinking about the last few trips I've been on in preparation for our next cruise. The bad thing about a cruise is you can't always find some essentials, like when I developed a canker sore. I could find deodorant and mouthwash in the souvenir shop on board, but nothing for mouth pain! I was recommended to the ship's doctor, and wound my way below decks to the clinic, just to discover it was unmanned, and gave up. I also neglected to bring a watch, and Brian didn't have one either, and neither one of us wanted to turn our phones on. There were watches for sale on the ship, but they were either REALLY expensive, or the most horrible over-sized impersonations of watches I'd ever seen. Cruises are lovely, but expect to feel a bit isolated from the comforts of society and CVS.

I've been eying 'first aid kits' when I come across them in the stores, and have been increasingly appalled at their lack of content. Several different sizes of (latex) bandaids and a single handiwipe? No good. I need to make my own, then! I've been mentally creating a list of things I want in my own kit, and then came across this useful blog. I'll need to adapt it to my own needs, of course.

First, non-latex bandages, and neosporin.
Possibly petroleum jelly -Vaseline's lip Therapy should work well in a travel kit. It's good for keeping germs out and bandages from sticking to wounds.
Benadryl for allergy attacks - ones you can take without needing water. ( I was going to try to get an epi-pen for my husband, but research and his own experience suggested that the epi-pen is just a temporary solution to get you to the hospital so they can give you benadryl. I HAVE accidentally peanutted him before, and his reaction is slow enough that I think it'd be sufficient to just have it always nearby in my purse.)
Pepto Bismol and Tums, because we have sensitive stomachs that like to complain.
Painkillers. I like buying the travel sizes because they come in awesome tiny tubes that are great for reusing.
Hand sanitizer.
Nail clippers/nail file, because a torn nail IS an emergency! And, well, handwipes. And Ambesol. And a watch. And a bandanna.

I think some of the things on the blog list are a good idea, but they're not particularly something I would want to carry with me on a regular basis. Bug spray and sunscreen are only useful when spending long periods of time outdoors in sunny, buggy areas. I'm thinking I should split these up into 'items I should keep in my purse', 'items to go in my suitcase', and 'items to take on an adventure.'
I also need to figure out (hopefully flat) storage because I like to keep a tiny purse, so I can stick it in my backpack for school. I don't want to get carried away, although I do admit I like being prepared. My favorite moment of preparedness was the last time Dad and I went to the movies together. He sighed and complained about the loudness of the speakers and wished he had earplugs. I whipped a pair out of my purse and handed them to him. he just goggled at me, but I felt awesome. (I then had to explain that I had them because the machinery in the editing room at work was so loud that it was driving me batty.)

Lots of ideas here, and I need to get started. I'm hoping it will involve eating the M&Ms sold in the tube packaging . . .
April 12, 2011

I think I've been planning this ever since we had the house painted.  I know how I wanted it to look, but it took well over a year to get it produced!

I found the fabric at JoAnn's, and fell in love.  I was even more excited to discover that it would work well with the color in the master bathroom.  It's a kind of greeny blue that I can't describe and can't photograph accurately, but it feels a bit beachy.  These photos are a bit too green, and my attempts at photo editing do not produce the proper results.  Just imagine more blue. 

Finding the fabric was the easy part.  Patterns produced nothing close to what I wanted.  I think I bought half a dozen 'this might do' pattens before I found what I was looking for in those do-it-yourself books.   I found that for 50 cents at the thrift shop.  Thank you, whoever decided to weed that from your sewing library!

I've never made full sized curtains.  I've mastered hanging them at this point, but always started out with well-researched draperies.  It's nearly impossible to find curtains in the stores that aren't plain rectangles.  Thank goodness for JCPenney and Burlington Coat Factory.  Making them was . . .  an experience.  Math was involved; actual patterns were not.  I may have memorized the instructions trying to understand them.  I'm pleased to say my math was accurate.  Cutting and sewing in straight lines?  Not so much, but fortunately this design was very forgiving in that respect. It was a bit ornate - if you were to turn it around, you would discover actual rigging with a dowel, plastic rings, and cording.  The instructions even made them adjustable - all's I would have to do is pull a cord once I set up the 1x2 spaced with screw eyes - but I settled for tying them off at the top. 

I will spend the next several days wandering in and refluffing them.  I am very grateful there's only one window.  My next project will be redoing the sheers.  This window is an odd shape - roughly 4 feet square - so I will have to do some trimming.
April 9, 2011

Everybody keeps reassuring me that it's OK to not totally decorate a room/house all at once.  Sometimes it takes time to find that right piece, and to just relax and keep my eyes open.

Lately I've been concentrating on the bedroom.  It's a big room, fairly bare, and yellow.  Very, very yellow.  Daffodil yellow, in fact.   I hate it.  Mostly what I'm trying to do is make it seem less yellow.  I tried to tone it down with browns, but it hasn't worked too well.  Now I'm trying whites and creams to soften it.  I was fortunate in finding a great deal at Burlington Coat Factory.  A soft creamy colored damask set of panels that have an attached valance.  It's got a pretty, unusual drape of sheer fabric attached, too.  Best part - only $20 a panel.  They replaced the dark maroon curtains I bought when Brian first got sick.  He didn't even HAVE curtains, and I figured he'd have a better time sleeping with room darkening/noise dampening panels.  They worked well until we painted the room and bought the fancy bedspread, when they took on a primary color aspect.

The bad part about the new curtains is that they weren't lined.  I had to get blackout liners, and again lucked out, this time at Wal-Mart.  Shockingly, they were on clearance at $10 a panel, and turned out to be eco friendly, which meant no smell!  Boy do they work.  It's actually kind of unnerving to have it THAT dark in the room.  The LED on the fire alarm is annoying now.  I did have a problem with light coming up between the top of the panels and the wall, but solved that with a strip of cardboard wedged between the curtain rod and the wall.

Having new curtains also meant new curtain rods.  I wanted something fancy, and while I couldn't match the flame finials on the bed and the monster chest-of-drawers, I did find an oval shaped finial that mimicked the reeding on the bedposts and details on the chest and nightstands.  I'm still working out how to use holdbacks.   They sort of push the curtains away from the wall, which doesn't look so good.

Since my attention has been devoted to that room, I started thinking about other areas and what I wanted to do.  The new curtains actually make the room look bigger, or at least that wall farther away.  I was afraid that the absence of dark color on that wall would make the chest of drawers loom even larger, but it seems ok.  I turned instead to the bookshelf that stood on the opposite wall from the chest.  It's not quite as tall, and actually looks kind of small and sad.  I thought a vase of flowers would help - something to look at while in the room, plus add height and balance.

With that in mind, I wandered into Michaels to see what they had pre-made.  (More luck - a big floral sale!)  I found one sample on display that I liked, except for the bright yellow tiger lilies in it.  I didn't want to add MORE yellow to the room, and frankly, I have an aversion to tiger lilies.  I know it's weird, it's just they have an awful smell, and it makes me dislike even the fake ones.

So I looked around, and started picking out stems to design my own arrangement.  I found some cream dogwood-like florals, and some big flower things - possibly gardenias? - that matched.  I added some green leaves to the bottom, and also some tall stemlike bits with berries hanging off.  I matched it all with a metal vase made to look like wood - matching the mahogany of the rest of the room. 

I've never really done much floral arranging . . . just a lackadaisical arrangement in my bathroom: pink and blue flowers shoved in a Snapple container.  I enjoyed the challenge of trying to figure out how it should look and how to solve what I felt was missing.  The gardenias made it cohesive, the berries added dark bits of interest.  The greenery was a bit too much, and I still need to mess with it a bit to get a better balance.  I couldn't figure out how to easily take pieces off without resorting to cutting them.

I'm very pleased overall.  Now I'm thinking about wall decorations, as there's nothing hanging on the walls at all.  That could take ages, so I made a side trip and am now working on curtains for the master bathroom.  I've had the fabric since last summer, I think.  It's just taken me all this time to figure out the instructions.  I'm used to one inch scale curtains, where I can just glue them on the wall.