Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Decorating with Glass Jars and Mod Podge

    I don't know what Freud would say about my glass jar fetish.  Maybe he would say that the "cup" nature of a jar means that I crave to be fulfilled. Maybe he would say that I am a risk-taker who enjoys handling something that can be so easily shattered. Or maybe he would say that I feel life is too fragile and try to control that fear by controlling glass. Well Sigmund would be wrong on all accounts. I save glass jars because I think they are darn purty.
    On my internet travel trips I have lately seen several tutorials on how to make faux blue glass jars. It's very simple really and I have been itching to give it a try. Here are the steps if you want to try too:

1. Rinse glass jars after the contents are gone. I used peanut butter, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and pickle jars.
2. Soak the jars in water to remove most of the label.
3. Use Goo Gone to remove the sticky label glue left on the jar.  Thoroughly wash and dry the jar.
4. Pour some Mod Podge into a small receptacle--one that is large enough to accommodate a paintbrush.
5. Squeeze a few drops of food coloring into the Mod Podge and stir well. I like purple better than blue, so
    I used 2 drops of blue coloring and 3 drops of red.
6. "Paint" the colored Mod Podge onto the glass jar. I painted the rim first and let it dry before I worked my
    way around the jar. Make sure you have enough "paint" on the brush to make a continuous stroke down
    the jar from top to bottom. If you try to paint over a section that you already painted before it's dry, it will
    gum up.

Aren't they yummy?  After I did these, I couldn't stop...

So I made more and tucked twinkle lights inside for a romantic feel. They don't look as purple in this light but they add atmosphere to my kitchen counter.

Maybe red and green for Christmas? Bright green for St. Patrick's Day? Yellow to hold a bunch of sunflowers?  Pink for a little girl's room? Orange for a pencil holder?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Serenity 7-24-2011

    A while back, my grandson, Avatar, had a wipe-out moment with a scooter and ended up needing stitches in his ear. When I visited him, he wanted me to have visual evidence of his pain.
    I reflected on that moment, and realized that sometimes, that's all I want too. Someone to notice that I'm hurting. Someone to say, "Ouch--that must have been painful!" Maybe I don't need a cure to make it all better. Maybe what I need is some temporary acknowledgement that sometimes I get scratched as I go through life and that for a moment, life is less than pleasant.
    Sometimes, all your friends need from you is a sympathetic word, an encouraging smile, or a warm hug. And maybe sometimes they just need you to take a picture of their pain.

There is no greater loan than a sympathetic ear. 
Frank Tyger

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Which I Receive the Ultimate Compliment

In late 2008, when I began this blog, I wrote mainly for family and friends. I thought blogging was a great way to keep people updated, as well as provide a way to encourage communication. I wanted the title to be catchy and to mean something. I chose the name Foreign Quang because it was a phrase I used around the house to describe life’s indescribable moments—little, seemingly insignificant moments that everyone has, that later turn out to be some of our most cherished memories.

A quote was needed—a quote that would sum up my intent in a few words so I could use it as a header on my blog. I went to many different quote websites, and finally found a quote that was perfect for the feeling I wished to convey here at the Quang. It’s the one you see front and center when you log on to Foreign Quang.  The site also had a few other quotes by Robert Brault, but this one caught my heart.

Not long after, I received a message from none other than Robert Brault, thanking me for choosing his quote for my site. I was thrilled! Not having done any in-depth research into the man behind the quote, I assumed Robert Brault was some 16th century philosopher, some Thomas a Kempis spouting universal truths for us to ponder.

Not so.

Robert Brault is a 21st century philosopher spouting universal truths for us to ponder. And laugh at. And rejoice over. And say about, “I’ve always felt that way, but I never knew I felt that way until Robert Brault said it, and now I know it was a locked-up part of me to which he held the key.”

One of Robert’s unique talents is his ability to encapsulate in a few words, an evanescent feeling that is misting around in our brains and our hearts, searching for release. The feeling remains a prisoner until he speaks through his keyboard, and we shout, “Yes!”

I envy his talent.  Many times I have pored over the quotes on his website, trying to find a formula for his success, wondering why I look at most of his quotes and feel an immediate recognition as to their truthfulness, yet am unable to express those same thoughts myself in such an eloquent way. 

Robert has tried to retire from his blog many times, but luckily for us he is a sympathetic man who caves in to the incessant whining from his fans. We don’t let him rest. You will always find a link to his website on my sidebar.

So. The Compliment.

When I got back from Seattle, I posted many pictures of our trip. One of Computer Geek’s favorites was this one:
The ocean--it simultaneously calms and invigorates

After he viewed it on my blog, I looked over at him to see tears on his cheeks. Computer Geek isn’t a man who cries often. He’s much too logical for that. The photo and caption though, had him choked up. “I’ve never heard anyone describe the ocean that way. That’s exactly why I love the ocean so much, I just never thought about it in that way.”

Later as we discussed his emotion over the photo, he said, “You Braultized it.”

Because we both admire Robert, Computer Geek’s statement meant a lot to both of us, more especially me.  I felt a moment of satisfaction, not unlike when you are in geometry class and you finally solve a difficult problem.

So, Mr. Brault. You’ve achieved literary immortality by becoming a verb. To be accused of Braultizing is an honor indeed.

 "Perhaps we misjudge other people's loneliness 
because we're so seldom with them when they're alone."
~~Robert Brault~~

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dont take out your trash before the bag is full

    I was checking my email the other day and kept thinking to myself, "Something smells good."  Not chocolate molten fudge cake good, but clean sheets from a clothesline good. I finally determined the pleasant scent was coming from my desk, which if you've seen my desk lately, you'd know was a ridiculous thought.
     After rummaging about a bit, I finally located the source--a piece of mail from the good people at Vocalpoint. I opened it and found it was a sample garbage bag. I know what you're probably thinking---the last time you sniffed a garbage bag you wanted to hurl, right?
      This trash bag was packaged in a cute little gray cardboard holder that was dressed up like---get this---a garbage can! I thought it was exceptionally creative and cute.

Yes, I plan on recycling this gray metallic holder for some crafty purpose.

    The garbage bag was one of those stretchy Glad ForceFlex bags that keep expanding when you stuff it full of abusive materials. It was a garbage bag with a twist--it smelled divine.
     The new Glad ForceFlex bags are Febreze scented.  (I will let you in on a little Queen of Quang secret: When I know I have company coming, I squirt Febreze all over my furniture.) The premise is that you don't have to take out your garbage before the bag is full, just because it stinks. I don't know about you, but I have taken out many a trash bag before it was full, because I had some offensive remnants in the trash---goodies like leftover broccoli or death beans (refried beans that have spent one too many nights in the fridge.) 
    I put the sample in the kitchen can this afternoon. I am hoping that I can stuff that baby full and stretch it to its limits before I have to take it out. Because you know I'm a frugalista like that. And because I want that good-smelling bag to keep up the illusion that my kitchen is clean.
    And because I am such a frugalista and want to force you to be one too, I am giving away a 50 cent coupon for the bags to the first five couponers to leave me a comment telling me you want one.
(If you are one of the first five commenters who want one, send me an email at foreignquang at gmail dot com with your snail mail address.)  The sample came with coupons clearly addressed "For a Friend." Because I am an upstanding citizen and would never cheat in any way, I would never hog all these valuable coupons for myself.
The first picture I took had the bar code in the shot and then I realized "Boy, that was stupid."

See? They gave me coupons to give to YOU! I know, it's enough to make an extreme couponer weep.

So go ahead. Leave me a comment. First five get a 50 cent coupon and if you're smart and wait for the day your store does double coupons, that's a whole dollar! 
Obligatory disclaimer because the government says so: I was not paid cash to say any of the things I said. If I was, I am sure I could have turned this post into a full-fledged novel. I did receive a free trash bag in the mail, along with some coupons, which I am passing along because they were marked "For a Friend" and I am sure there is some sort of tracking chip in the bar code that will detect if I use them myself. Oh, and they did have one marked for my own particular use. 
(I use that phrase a lot ever since hearing it uttered by Charlotte Collins in Pride and Prejudice.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

From Garage to Man Cave

What do you do when you’re a single guy with a garage, you don’t need to park in it, and you don’t have enough tools to fill it up?

You turn the garage into a man cave, that’s what.

Michael Berg, of Monroe, Washington, decided to get creative with his unused space. Inspired by the history of Seattle’s underground city, he turned an average sized garage into a prohibition-era speakeasy themed retreat. Family and friends gather there for drinks, good food (Michael’s well-known in his family for his culinary and entertainment skills,) and scintillating conversation.

Over time, the Speakeasy, as it has come to be known, has gone through several design iterations. It has been a casino, a venue for a murder mystery dinner, and is now elaborately decorated as a pirate’s cave.  A digital designer, Michael has utilized his talents to bring fantasy to life and create a wondrous, fanciful ambience.

Ordinary garage on the outside...

...pirate's den on the inside!

Michael Berg in The Speakeasy

Serving food and drinks to his guests

One unfortunate pirate slept a little too long

Michael's choice of lighting creates a relaxed atmosphere

The bayou mural was painted by Michael's niece

The theme is continued throughout the entire "garage"

Refreshing limeade

The evening's finishing touch--Michael's homemade berry shortcake with strawberries hand-picked from 
the family garden.
I'll never look at another garage without visualizing its entertainment possibilities.

I Heart Seattle--Final Edition

Random...I tend to photograph that way.

What is Seattle most known for?  No, not the Mariners. Coffee!

Even Starbucks looks Bavarian in Leavenworth

Downtown Leavenworth is very dog-friendly. Cats can die.

Sometimes ugly junk is just so beautiful. I wanted to kidnap this pot from my SIL's house.

Their boyfriend crowed all day.

Next to coffee, Seattle-ites love their fish!

I love snooping in other people's yards ...

Is it a bench? A birdbath? A gnome home?

If only we'd brought a truck, Computer Geek's uncle would have had a lot of items missing from his backyard.

A three-wheeled car we saw in a parking lot.

Our July 4th bash--dinner, badminton, Nerf wars, and fireworks


View out SIL's back door. I expected the Volturi to come gliding through the trees at any moment.

I couldn't resist taking this shot driving east through Washington, even though the glare from my car window kept it from being perfect. Not too bad for whizzing by at 65 mph.

Our hotel in Lewiston, Idaho, which is right across the river from Clarkston, Washington. Get it?

Salmon River in Idaho

More Salmon River

And the photo that sums up our trip:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Heart Seattle Part 3

Today's lesson, boys and girls, is on tidal pools.

For two years in a row, I taught kids about marine life during science class. Each year the text book had the little pictorial chart showing where different animals stood (or swam) on the tidal pool life chain. For the first time, I got to see in person, the things I was teaching.

Computer Geek researched ahead to find what day and time would afford best tidal pool viewing. We arrived when the tide was at 2 feet negative. Pssht--like I knew what that meant.  It was a good thing my friend surprised me with a pair of Nothinz because I walked around right in the water! And my feet got wet! And I didn't care! (Confession time: I abhor the feeling of wet feet, unless I am swimming or swishing my feet in an ocean. Or I probably wouldn't care if my feet were wet if I was walking on a dock in Monaco.Wet socks on my feet make me want to poke a needle in my eye.)

So here are some pictures that, even though I am an amateur and my camera has a permanent smudge on the inside of the lens, are waaay better than the cheesy drawings in the textbook.

A moon snail, being held by some government lady who assured us that if we removed even a grain of sand from the beach that the entire world ecosystem would fail and all continents would plummet into the ocean. Oh, and that small child in the photo is not my grandson Chunk, though he looks exactly like him, even down to the facial injuries. I wanted to go up to his mom and say,"Would you please ask your son to say 'Grandma' for me? Just this once?'"

This is the amazingly cool sand home that the moon snail creates for itself. And doesn't that shadow almost look like the photographer forgot to remove herself from the frame before snapping the shot?

This area is underwater when the tide comes in. Computer Geek informs me it is on a six hour schedule.

Weston wants one of these in the back yard.

I guess other people did their research too and said, "Let's go! The tide's at a negative 2!"

Someone was a little crabby.

 But someone was an even littler crabby! 

CG says this is a sea anemone. Since it looks nothing like the cartoon in the 5th grade textbook I will assume he knows what he is talking about. After all, he grew up with water all around him, while I grew up with corn.

I can't decide which I like better---the beauty of the emerald green seaweed, the little yellow crab looking for shelter, or the photographer who tried to get into the picture again.

The highlight of the visit--there were purple starfish everywhere. Oh look. There's that photographer again. Grrr.
Better go---the tide's coming back in. I guess that makes it positive now instead of negative.  
I told you I'm a thinker.        
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