Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cover It Up, Why Don't You?

Sure, I could have gone to Sears or Bed, Bath and Beyond or one of those stores and purchased the one option available for outdoor furniture covers.  Usually, one store would have only one color to choose from and that would be beige or brown or dark green, blah, blah, blah.  I could have bought one of those, not considering aesthetics at all and just focusing on convenience and going along with the big stores idea of what my outdoor furniture covers should look like.  I think not!  If you have been reading my blog at all, you know by now - that is not my style!  Not only, is it not my style, but you know I'm going to spend hours upon hours looking and researching to try to find the best looking, the best price, the best style, etc. 

In the meantime, I left the plastic covers on that came with the chairs and they worked for awhile, but they made a lot of noise when the wind was whipping up and they started getting hole-y.  In the meantime, I left the stretch wrap on the table from when I got it thinking it would be better to leave the table covered and not expose the surface to the elements until I found a cover for it.  Well, that totally backfired on me and I'm here to say that I strongly advise against leaving stretch wrap on anything for too long.  Especially on things that are outside and baking in the sun for hours at a time for, oh, say a year or two.  I promised myself I wouldn't confess my stretch wrap sins but I find now that I can't help myself, so here goes.  My beautiful silver finish table was covered with stretch wrap when I got it.  I left it on there because I didn't have anything else to "keep it safe" with.  Do you know what happens to stretch wrap when left outside for long periods of time?  And then, you try to remove it? I do! It completely breaks apart into small flaky partially sticky pieces that are practically baked on the surface.  Suffice it to say, it took me probably five hours of very dirty, broken fingernails and painstaking work to remove almost all of the stretch wrap from the table.  In the last hour, as the sun went down and I was almost sitting in the dark, I got an idea to use packing tape to try to pull off the pieces.  It definitely helped but was slow going.  I must admit, I have a tiny bit left on there still, that I have to get back to.  I ran out of light and steam.  I'm telling you all this because I want to save you from going through the same thing. So folks, take my advice and remove all stretch wrap asap! I will never make that mistake again. 

Here's what the furniture looked like last spring and please focus in on the stretch wrap all over that table.  Also notice all of the holes in the table....not sure those made it easier or worse to get that stuff off. 

Okay, now that I have confessed and feel even more foolish having put it all in writing... let me get back to the covers!  I was determined to finally find covers that looked good, fit well and most importantly weren't expensive.  I wanted gray to go with my silver finished furniture and my decor in general.  I found this website and they had gray covers at very reasonable prices so I bit the bullet and ordered them.  Even though, the return policy wasn't the best, restocking fees and all, but I finally pulled the trigger.  The brand I went with was Dayva.  I got an umbrella cover, a round table cover with a pull string and two high back chair covers.  I like everything separate, as opposed to the covers that go over a grouping of table and chairs.  Most of the time I just use one chair, so why deal with uncovering and recovering everything.  The high back chairs weren't in stock so I got the umbrella and table covers first.  They came very quickly.  They are light gray and they seem to be made well.  The chair covers came not too long after and they looked like the same color. I was excited.  I didn't put them on right away, so at least a week later I went to put them on and realized they weren't the same color!  Ugh!  They look more clayish, than grayish.  Bummer.  I decided to keep them because it wasn't terrible looking and frankly, I didn't want to deal with the hassle of sending them back, etc.  Trust me, if it looked really bad, I would have dealt with it.  The only real complaint I have, other than the mismatched color, is that all of the covers have some kind of film/residue all over the outside of them.  Not really sticky but, well, I can't think of a good word but I'm hoping it will wear off over time.  In case you wanted to know, the high back chair covers have an elastic "waist band" around the bottom instead of a draw string.  I think it works pretty well.  Long story short, my outdoor furniture is now better protected (hopefully) and looks pretty good too!  Tell me what you think?  I would love to hear your experiences with Dayva or other covers, just leave your comments on the bottom of this post.

Thanks for stopping by and Stay tuned for more creativity!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My World Of Wearable Jewels

In my world of wearable jewels, there are so many beautiful gemstones in pretty much any color you could possibly imagine. Let me introduce you to "The Ilana" signature bracelet.  My signature bracelet is usually made with six strands of beads and a fairly large center clasp.  The three most important elements of making this bracelet work are: the center clasp, the mix of the bead shapes and the draping of the strands. I can't give away all my secrets but that sums up what makes this bracelet so beautiful, classic and my go to favorite.  I switch is up with different clasps but my all time favorite is the square longevity clasp.  If I had my druthers, I would design my own clasps because I can't seem to find many other ones that are as big and work as well.  Though I am always looking.  I found these really pretty art deco looking clasps (see below) and they are all sparkly. I also found a pretty marcasite clasp that looks great with the clear quartz beads.

In case you are wondering what gemstones you are looking at, from left to right:  On the bracelet bar - green aventurine, garnet, smoky quartz, labradorite, iolite, carnelian/orange jade.  Pooled underneath the bracelet bar - tanzanite colored crystal, amethyst, white quartz, coral, tanzanite, teal seed beads, peacock colored mixed beads, blue labradorite.

Here is a closer look of the aventurine and garnet.

 The art deco sparkly clasp - isn't it pretty?

Here is the amethyst 4 strand with a different clasp and different design.  

While I love my signature bracelet, I also make other designs.  I use toggle clasps, bar clasps and other kinds too.  Just think of all the possibilities with all of the gemstones out there and all the colors of the rainbow. 

Believe it or not, even with all of those, there are still some that I want to make.  For instance, I have a smoky quartz bracelet with lighter stones, but I really want to make one out of darker beads.  I made one of those darker ones for a customer and almost couldn't part with it.  That was back in the day when I sold beaded jewelry.  I also really want to make one out of peridot.  The most recent one I made is the orange one in the first picture, made of carnelian and orange jade.  I usually don't mix the stones, but these just worked so well together.  So that's all for now on the jewelry front. I will have to showcase some of my necklaces soon.

One more thing, I absolutely love labradorite.  Labradorite is a grey stone that has flashes of blue and green and even some yellow, depending on the stone.  It is known as labradorescence and gemstone varieties of labradorite exhibiting a high degree of labradorescence are called spectrolite.  It's really hard to see in photos but here is my signature labradorite bracelet.  Really, the picture does it no justice. 

Thanks for stopping by and Stay tuned for more creativity!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Survival Of The Fittest

The petunias are taking over!  It's survival of the fittest, out there AND on my terrace.
I hope the dahlia's and usually hearty marigolds, keep pushing up through the petunia tangle.  Oh and those beautiful gerber daisies, the leaves are growing but no new blooms.  I have one begonia that is doing really well!  More and more, when I look at the flowers as a whole, I see the perfect blend for the 4th of the July!  Red, white, Purplish-Blue, with a tiny bit of yellow.  I guess I have my own fireworks!

Isn't it pretty? And it's still June!

Thanks for stopping by and Stay tuned for more creativity!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Did It My Way - Or "Necessity Is the Mother Of All Invention"

Just a quick update on the, ahem, broken terrace screen door handle from Sunday.  Check out my previous post, if you want the full story about how the gigantic hairy fanged wasp attacked me and I went screaming through my screen door, shattering it into.....okay, so this is turning into the "I caught a fish this big" story.  I did make that trip to Home Depot, tonight in fact.  I bought a new door handle for around 10 bucks and Carl, this nice older gentleman who was trying to help me figure out what size screws I would need, took his box cutter and opened the darn package right there. Gotta love Carl.  I was very happy with his decision because I didn't want to make multiple trips.  Turns out the screen door handle people, decided for once to make it a little easier and supplied three different lengths to accommodate different door widths.  Trouble is they put this one piece in the package that you had to measure against your door and subsequently shorten the metal piece by taking two pliers and bending the extra length off.  Yeah right!  Needless to say, I didn't have the pliers that the instructions said I had to use and thanks for not having that information on the package door handle people!  But, necessity is the mother of all invention!

In my determination and quite frankly because of my absolute stubbornness to get this done, I had to come up with something that worked.  Ding, the light bulb (or was that the microwave), went on over my head. I wasn't going to be beaten by this piece of metal! I was going to win! So,I decided to saw off the extra metal piece.  With what? You may ask.  With my jewelry saw that I got when I took soldering 101 at FIT.  The other options of either going back to buy pliers at Home Depot or trying to bribe one of the maintenance guys at work to help, were not looking good to me and I didn't want to wait anyway.  The jewelry saw worked like a charm!  I don't know what you would have done. I'm assuming most people don't have jewelry saws lying around.  A regular saw would have been a bit overkill if not ludicrous. Can you imagine if the instructions on the door handle said to get out your jeweler's saw to shorten this piece of metal?  So, I'm taking credit for this DIM (Did It Myself) project. It's the little things that make me happy. 

My getting chased by a wasp and freaking out sturdy new shiny terrace screen door handle! (I just have to touch up with some white paint).

I know it's not particularly sexy, but I'm in love!!!!

Thanks for Stopping by and Stay tuned for more Creativity and DIM!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Unwanted House Guests

For the second year in a row, and I'm assuming for every year to come, a mother wasp has decided that my terrace railing makes a great place to nest.  She then starts making a honey comb like structure by first attaching it to the underside of my railing.  The mother wasp lays her larvae, one in each comb and I guess waits for them to hatch.  Well, usually I don't mind house guests, but there is no way I am going to share my terrace with a family of wasps!  I'm sorry mother nature, but I pay the mortgage! 

I don't know if I was terrified or just really nervous.  The thought of having to make contact with either the wasp or the nest, kind of freaked me out.  But since I am the "man" of the house, what choice did I have.  I got my long dish washing gloves, my yard stick, a really heavy magazine and some plastic bags.  Standing as far back as possible, I took the yard stick and knocked the wasp to the ground and then swooped in with the magazine and swat!  Goodnight gracie!  My heart was pounding with the adrenaline rush.  Lord knows what crazy sounds I must have been making but first part was done.  Now for step two.  That nest was really stuck on there, so I had to grab some paper towel. I wrapped the paper towel around the nest and pulled it off with gloved hands.  Squeaking and squirming the whole way.  I looked inside the "combs" and they were all full!  I put the nest in two plastic bags and stomped!  I then put it all in another plastic bag and threw it down the garbage chute.  Phew!  That was last year! 

Today, I found another one.  Long story short, I took care of it, but managed to break my screen door's handle when I thought the wasp was after me and I ran into the house!  Looks like a trip to Home Depot is imminent. Don't think I didn't take a moment, after it was all over, to be awed by the amazing nest and wonder how long or even how that wasp accomplished such a marvel.  Till next year! (sigh) 

Thanks for stopping by and Stay tuned for more "drama"!