life, the universe, and everything

Make your home smell pretty 14 December 2008

Filed under: crafts — creativecat @ 11:52 am

With three cats, sometimes my house can seem like there’s the faint aroma of cat litter lingering in the air.* Not the best scent. I’ve tried many methods of enhancing my home’s scent: scented candles, incense, plug-ins air-fresheners, ceramic light bulb rings, placing scented dryer sheets in my vents, simmering potpourri and oils . . . all work to a certain degree.

None work nearly as well as reed diffusers. I’d heard about them before but didn’t want to pay $20 for something that I couldn’t smell before purchasing. So when I found one for $5, I figured it was worth trying. Within a half hour, my house smelled amazing! I’m definitely a convert. I still love candles for atmosphere but will stick with unscented from now on.

After discovering the wonder that is the reed diffuser, I thought, how can I make my own? I want something that works as well as this diffuser yet looks more interesting than a boring clear glass bottle. Can I use any kind of bottle? What kind of fragrance do I use? Do I have to use reeds?

I wandered upon and learned quite a bit–all of which I’m taking with a grain of salt considering they make their money selling reed diffusers. They claim that you can’t make your own scents but others have tried with varying levels of success. Personally, I’m not a chemist and am happy to buy ready-to-use fragrances. I experimented once with making my own perfume with maple leaves and it just ended up smelling like dirt.

I found a very limited selection of colored reeds: natural, black, red, blue and green. I will try using candle dyes and food coloring to color the oil and reeds. Yes, you must use reeds and not bamboo or wood. The reeds work because of their natural make-up: little bitsy straws running up and down them–kind of like celery. Bamboo and wood may be cheaper but don’t have the same properties. They won’t suck up the fragrance and diffuse it around the room like the reeds. Reeds should be at least twice the height of the bottle they’re in and can be cut to size. About once a week, flip the reeds so the end that was exposed to the air is now in the oil. It’s best not to reuse the reeds because the old scent will still linger in their straws–unless you want to combine the scents.

The best kind of bottle to use is one with a narrow neck so the oil doesn’t evaporate in the air but through the reeds. Although if you have a bottle you’d like to use with a larger neck, a lid with holes big enough for the reeds to fit in would work as well. The best materials for your bottle are glass and glazed ceramic. Unglazed ceramic will suck up the scent so it’s best to make sure even the inside of the bottle has been glazed. You could add little marbles or stones to the inside of the bottle or maybe some complementary herbs or dried flowers.

*Side note: Different cat litters work better than others for covering up litter-box smells. However, many cats are picky about what kind of litter they like. Unfortunately for me, my cats prefer just the plain old clay litter. Pine litter is great for masking smells–but only if your cats like it.


Less is more 18 July 2008

Filed under: personal — creativecat @ 9:47 pm
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I feel like the more free time I have, the less I get done. I can always say, “I’ll do that later” since I know I’ll have time later. When I’m busy, things get done because I don’t know if I’ll have time later. So since I started a new job this week, I’ve done a lot of cleaning and organizing that I’ve ignored for a while. There’s empty surfaces that were covered in clutter just a few days ago! My kitchen sparkles!

When you’re busy, you’re constantly going. That momentum keeps you getting stuff done. It’s the stopping to take a break that kills my motivation. My best days at work are the ones where I look at the clock and think: “Wow, 3 hours have gone by already?” Even when I come home after a long day at work, I’m still in the mindset to get a lot accomplished.


Modern day treasure hunting! 9 July 2008

Filed under: art,crafts,design — creativecat @ 12:52 pm
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hand carved cat

hand carved cat

hand carved bat

hand carved bat

One of the coolest things I heard about recently is letterboxing. It combines my love of craft with my desire to explore. It’s virtually free and gets you some exercise. What more could you ask for in a hobby?

The main thing you need to get started as a letterboxer is your own stamp to mark what boxes you’ve found. As an artist and designer, I just couldn’t use a pre-made stamp. My stamp needed to be unique. Of course, I had never carved a stamp before. I’ve been painting, drawing, and collaging for years so why not try something new? There’s somewhat of a learning curve with carving but the technique is very similar to scratchboard. After doing some practice stamps (can you tell which stamp I did first?), I have some ideas on how to perfect the process. Since it’s best to glue the rubber stamp material to a block of wood for clearer prints, I think cutting out the larger shapes and gluing those to the wood directly would save time. And give the stamp a more polished look.

Once you have a stamp (and stamp pad), a “trail name” and a blank book to record your adventures (and knowing me I’ll want to make my own book too!), you’re ready to start letterboxing! Look for clues to find letterboxes near you at and There’s bound to be plenty within walking distance of your house. When you find the box, mark the box’s book with your stamp and trail name and mark your book with the box’s stamp.

If you want to take it further, create your own box. Put a stamp, stamp pad and small book in a box and post your clues on one of the letterboxing sites.


Good clean fun 7 July 2008

Filed under: crafts,design — creativecat @ 10:42 am
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felting process

felting process

felt soap

felt soap

felt beads

felt beads

Felting is a lot of fun. It’s so satisfying to create beads and nice soaps out of wool. Using a felting needle for the whole process leads to poking your fingers until they bleed. Wet felting doesn’t let you get as detailed. So I combined the techniques. I start by dry felting to get the design started. Then I use a little soap and a lot of hot water to really get the felt going quickly. Gloves help so I don’t dry my hands out.

Felted soap is especially great because you don’t need to ADD soap to the process. And the soap continues to felt as you use it. The end result is a nice light exfoliating soap.


Playing around with shrinky dinks 5 July 2008

Filed under: art,crafts,design — creativecat @ 1:31 pm
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I’ve been having fun experimenting with shrinky dinks: sketching with colored pencils and sharpies and painting with acrylics. I’m pretty happy with how these turned out considering I was just playing around. I think if I do a little planning/sketching first, I may be able to sell illustrated earrings, pendants and key rings.


Cupcakes! 30 June 2008

Filed under: art,culinary arts — creativecat @ 12:14 pm
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I have a cupcake obsession. I’m not even that crazy about eating them. I actually like looking at them more than I like eating them. Usually cake is too dry and crumbly for my tastes. And I’m very picky about frosting. Give me buttercream or give me death! Crisco is only good for making fake whipped cream or ice cream. It’s not meant to be eaten.

There are very few places that make beautiful and delicious cupcakes. Back in the Day in Savannah’s Starland District and The Cupcake Shoppe in Raleigh. Then there’s those who take that to another level. Like the girl who made knitted cupcakes. Or the perfect snack at the Vagina Monologues.

My baking skills are ok. I can make tasty confections and I can make beautiful pastries. Unfortunately, I can’t do both at once. One Christmas I made Buche de Noel with marzipan poinsettias. It was delicious but the cake looked less round and log-like and more rectangular and misshapen.

So I’ll limit my beautiful cupcakes to the illustrated variety–like these cupcakes done with watercolor and colored pencil last year when I was taking a class called Illustrating the Edible.


Less drama, more boredom please 28 June 2008

Filed under: personal — creativecat @ 10:53 am
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Last weekend I had some kind of crazy-bitch-magnet in overdrive. Not one, but two separate unrelated crazy women decided to come after me. Both have serious jealousy issues that I unwittingly incited.

The first was my late ex-husband’s first wife. Mike and I got along great even after the divorce. After I made a smart-ass comment about how he’s my favorite ex-husband, he smiled and told me I’m his favorite ex-wife–and he has more than one. Probably because unlike his first wife, I’ve never accused him of horrible things like rape, abuse or theft. The first wife (who he divorced more than a decade ago) somehow found out Mike passed away and read the site my mother-in-law and I started in his memory to help raise awareness of healthcare rights. On that site, I described myself as Mike’s “favorite ex-wife.” I think that must have set her off.

She started by sending me a myspace message saying she was sorry for my loss and she wished she had known because she would have helped us financially. She also said she would never get over his death. I tried to reply to thank her for the condolences. However, her myspace would only allow messages from friends. So I sent her a friend request. Three weeks later, she hadn’t responded, so I deleted my request. Her response was to post a hate-filled slanderous account of her life with Mike. According to her warped religious views, Mike and his family were horrible evil people and he’s surely burning in hell. Now, I’m not at all religious, so I could give a shit about her religious mumbo-jumbo. However, I do know if there is a hell, Mike is definitely not there. And telling horrible lies about someone who can’t defend themselves because they’re dead is just low.

I responded by sending her a message filled with atheist and anti-Christian propaganda. Which was childish but made me feel a bit better. I also let her know Mike said he’s already experienced hell: being married to her.

Needless to say, I was already riled up when I encountered crazy bitch #2.

The second one is my boyfriend’s roommate. This woman does not have any understanding of privacy. She had promised to be out of the house while I was visiting so we could have some time alone. Instead, the morning I went down there, she decided to stay at home. She still said she would stay out of our way. Instead, I’m not in town even 15 minutes when she starts harassing us. For some reason, calling constantly while we’re trying to have dinner constitutes “giving us some space” in her book. After dinner, we went back to his place. She decided that since we had closed and locked the door to his room as soon as we got there that must have meant we wanted her to come knock on the door to ask something about laundry. We made it very clear to her, that no, we actually wanted to be alone. So she started crying and told me I was being “unrational.” I yelled at her and told her I definitely couldn’t be “unrational” since that doesn’t exist. If she meant I was being irrational, then she was still wrong because she had broken her promise to give us privacy almost immediately. Then we left the house and avoided her for the rest of the weekend.

But that wasn’t enough for her. No, she wanted drama and wanted to make sure we did not have time alone together. Since we were ignoring her, she made she couldn’t be ignored and called the police to have me removed from the premises. Unfortunately for her, that just meant we stayed in a hotel. At least in a hotel if you put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, no one walks in on you.