Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: 'Tis Near Halloween!

Samhain, all hallow's eve, Hallowe'en... our day is nigh, fiends!
Oh the joy to see so many jack o' lanterns littering the neighborhood-- even some that have already been smashed! A time honored tradition for the trickster spirits about, heheh.

My entire year felt like its lead up to October, much like it does every year, and with the big day on Tuesday, I already feel the withdrawals for the spooky season since shop shelves do become rather sparse in their decoration pickins' so close to the day of.
There isn't much left for me to buy anymore-- I did my spending though, but so little of it was on actual decorations for my home. This year my Halloween haul has been predominately fabric and though fabric does excite and entice me immensely, I feel the FOMO bug biting at my brain in terms of Halloween decorations...

While visiting the Dollar Tree in the next town for unrelated reasons, I stumbled onto what was left of their Halloween section.
It was a rather depressing sight, but I did manage to scrounge a few items that I then took to my half-processed creative laboratory for a bit of spooky crafty fun.

Foam feathered crow - check.
Fully functioning (these things rarely are) foam glitter light-up pumpkin - check.
Scraps of felt, lace and a doily from Michael's dollar section - check, check.

I cut out a cute lil' witch hat, and then glued it on it's head.

Now it's a cute lil' witchy crow.
If you decide to follow along with this little craft, you can at this point add anything else to the hat, but since I can't find anything but my scraps just yet... it'll go a little bare... for now.

Next, I mounted the witchy crow using the little wire pegs on its feet, onto pumpkin in a stately manner. Tied on this little scrap of ribbon around its neck like a scarf, plop the whole thing on top of the doily (because black doilies make everything better)... and voilĂ ! A decoration fit for leaving out all year long.

A stately little crow upon a bust of Lantern Jack.
Quoth the little crow, 'Tis near Halloween!'

Spook ya later, fiends!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mortem's Trick or Treats: To Be or Not To Be-- Craft-along + Giveaway!

Another home, another spooky sewing room to make my own!
One of my favorite things about moving is being able to rearrange and redecorate my creative living space.
Once again, I find myself with not just one but two rooms to house my hobbies-- one room for my machines and general craftery; the other room for my stash... because yeah, my stash really is that big.

The "store room" came in an ashy grey, and that is ok... for now.
Unfortunately, the machine room is where the paint job wasn't exactly a blank canvas.

The ceiling is painted in a high gloss black, 3 of the walls including the closet are painted a pastel purple, and the wall facing the rest was a deep pink accent wall.
I don't mind the purple, and I am keeping the black ceiling... but the pink had to go immediately.

I bought a gallon of Kilz, and luckily the previous owners had some leftover eggshell ultra pure white that I eliminated the pink with.

Unsurprising, it took almost the entire gallon of Kilz to neutralize that deep shade of not-my-favorite-color, but already the room became livable for me.
I dabbed the ceiling accidentally here and there, and weirdly it's the only mistakes among the plethora that can be seen on photo-- perhaps it's the white contrast on black... well the previous paint job is intensely sloppy. There are 2 colors on that edge... actually all edges even on the sills and frames that aren't turning up in the photo.
It's almost as if they decided to forgo painters tape... I have major amounts of retouching and scraping to do despite my own mistakes.

The wall remained an accent wall, but instead of being a solid color, I opted to stripe it-- black and white! How exciting that it should fit exactly into Bane's theme for this month's Craft-Along. I did make a submission for previous month's craft-along... but my move sort of prevented me from writing up a post for it; if you're following my IG account, you would have seen what I made and are perhaps waiting on that outfit and post. If I can only find the box they're all packed in...

Anyway, this was my first time painting a stripe wall... I think the concept of stripe walls was scarier than the doing, though to be fair, I did quite a lot of video research before I got to the doing. I bought a cheap laser level which made the process much much quicker and less messy. I also created a cardboard template, so that I could get nearly perfect spacing for my markings to set my laser on: I say nearly because I don't think each stripe is exactly 5.5 inches; there is very likely fractions of an inch differences to each, but it's very near the mark.

Since I was painting on a wall I only let cure for 24 hours, I went with delicate surface frog tape. I read that no matter what you buy or how much you try, some bleeding is inevitable; with that in mind, the best tip I read was prepping the inside of the stripe by painting a coat with your base paint just overlapping the inside and the tape to create a kind of bleed-barrier to prevent a lot of that; whatever bleeds heavily will be the same color as the base. You let that layer cure as per paint can instructions, and continue with your dark paint.

Another tip that everyone chimed in with is taking off the tape while the paint is still wet to get a cleaner finish. That said, my second coat went slower, as I worked 2 stripes at a time to move carefully around the wet paint.
All in all, I'm extremely happy with the result-- I didn't have any bad bleed spots on my stripes, many of them came out so clean I could have made one of those "satisfying" videos...

But like expected, some bleed did happen-- not very big, the biggest ones were no bigger than the head of a pin. I took a tiny dab of white base on an artists paint brush and it fixed them right up.

So now the question remains... what to do with the purple. Do I keep it? Or do I change it...

I'm assuming since the paint cans left are such, that I'm dealing with a Behr paint. This purple shade color wasn't in the pile left us. The color, I think, is either 'Foxglove' or 'Bohemianism' in semi-gloss.
Tough to tell... thinking more it's foxglove.

I do love purple, and I don't like doing this kind of painting (the act, not the result, heh!)... but I also really love the idea of a nice aged pumpkin orange to go with my vintage and retro decor that make up my signature spooky sewing room theme.

My two orange choices are 'Japanese Koi' or 'Mandarin'-- almost no difference, except mandarin is just slightly more pale.
I was going to go for a matte, but my husband convinced me eggshell would be more appropriate to go with the accent wall.

So, as of yesterday... I am completely undecided. I was so sure I was going to do the orange that I bought a couple sample tubs to play with on the wall... but gah, I went and overthought it.
I can't make the decision...

So I am going to leave it up to you, fiends!

And for your troubles, I shall offer a chance to win a little Halloween Treat Bag

With the spooky season still in full swing in my heart (regardless of those Christmas fanatics already revving up!), and having an October that also included a Friday the 13th, I'd say there's still lots of cheer to spread.
Help a fellow spook out, cast your vote and be entered to win this here surprise treat bag stuffed with all manner of spoopy, kitsch, and oh so delightfully Weeny goodness, including a handmade piece of spooky cute jewelry by yours truly and a couple knick knacks to entice a crafty spooky soul among the loot!

The Rules:
  1. You must be following my IG (@mari_mortem) and/or this blog.
  2. Comment on either post (via IG or on here) with your vote-- team purple or team orange. Receive an extra entry if you comment on both (please leave an identifier if you have different account names).

Winner drawn randomly on Oct. 31th, open world wide.
Good luck, fiends-- spook ya later!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Adventures In The Life of a Nomad: A Trip Essay.

Hello fiends,

I am writing to you from un-sunny Washington state. My new home, and a new opportunity to spook the locals.

What an adventure to get here.
It started off on a really bad foot. 

My black kitty Khan got rather sick on a Friday; acute low liver function the vet said, and he needed at least two over-night stays on IV-- the vets were fully aware of our impending move and were as concerned as I was about it all... this was just two days before we scheduled to set sail. Luckily it was a 24 hour vet care, with very good people.
It was no question to delay the date and hope the vets were able to do something about it. I put on every piece of lucky jewelry I could find; the stress was overwhelming with everything else on top, and I needed every last drop of hope I could muster. The movers came and packed everything away on the Sunday and morning of Monday; I was able to spend some time with the only person I spent frequent amounts of time with in SA on Tuesday (aka friend), which helped to ease some of the stress-- he took me on a quest to find a Starbucks that offered a pumpkin spice chai tea latte, odd that it was so tough to find.
On the Wednesday the vet called early in the morning and told us Khan was well enough to travel, but still not out of the woods-- they would check us out in the afternoon. An unbelievable weight lifted when I saw my Khan peppier than he was just a few days ago-- I thought I was going to lose him. But my happiness was somewhat dampened with the medications I had to give him and the warning that they may not do anything due to the stress he had ahead of him.

We were given a prescription pheromone cat spray for the car to help ease the stress-- it had to be used one hour prior to travel. So we brought Khan back to the house where Poe his older brother was eagerly awaiting him. We packed our little dodge dart, gathered the kittles and their things, crossed our fingers... and an hour later we were on the road.

Not two hours out of San Antonio city limits, and we started hearing a thud, thud, thud.
Low at first, but it got progressively louder and louder, and the car also gradually shook-- until it was so loud and shaking, my husband was white-knuckling the steering wheel and I grabbed my seat and grit my teeth. Both of us hoping to make it to a town with a mechanic.
We made it as far as San Angelo, booked a room in a very dicey La Quinta right beside a Midas that had just closed-- no other mechanic close enough for us to risk continuing driving the vehicle. We didn't know the extent of damage or how long it would take to fix, and the hotel no matter how dicey and dated it was, was fully booked... but the lady at the front desk seemed very sympathetic of our plight and gave us the latest check out date they could feasibly do under such last-minute-over-booked circumstances.

First thing in the morning, my husband went off to Midas before they even opened, and I tasked myself with pilling Khan...
Pilling a cat that is stressed while you're very stressed yourself is the hardest thing you'll ever have to do. Khan refused EVERY. SINGLE. METHOD to pill him; not stuffing it in food, not syringing it into his mouth as a liquid, and just barely being able to open his mouth long enough to put the pill in the back of his throat; he was somehow able to bring it back front and spit it out several times-- he fought me with every ounce of zeal from a cat named Khan.
I was bitten and scratched and close to tears, having called my MIL who was a vet volunteer (once upon a time) for verbal help. One pill was successfully downed, and we decided he might have got enough of the pill he absolutely hated to equal the half dose he needed. So I gave up for the day.

On the car front, my husband phoned me with the news we had a tire bulge, and we were lucky we didn't get in a serious accident driving as long as we did doing highway miles. The good news was that it wasn't going to take long; we decided to just go ahead replace all four tires, so they would wear evenly... and for good measure, since we had several days left of the trip.
When we checked out, another lady at the counter was apprised of our situation and had prepared little care packages for our checkout. Water bottles for the kittles, and double chocolate cookies for us. They helped.
After the morning debacle, we stopped by a neighborhood Walmart since Khan would eat only tiny amounts of his kibbles-- I thought I would get a few varieties of wet cat foods to pique his appetite a little more. Out of the 8 choices I brought him, he scarfed down Purely Fancy Feast-- I wasn't too happy buying a Purina product, but I was desperate to get my babe eating normally again and these had very decent reviews and minimal ingredients and were very accessible along our long route.

The cat spray seemed to work by the second day of the trip-- the cats weren't nearly as fussy, and we were able to make a push to New Mexico, where we stopped for a night in Artesia and Carlsbad to visit with friends we made while we lived here. I miss New Mexico so much-- I believe it's the closest I felt at home since my momma's house back in Canada. If the move to San Antonio didn't happen, I can see myself growing roots in this state.

We stayed in yet another La Quinta, but this one far fancier.
We left New Mexico without a hitch. My hubby helped pill Khan in the morning, just slightly less of a struggle than before, but hey no scratches that time. His appetite visibly grew, he ate more kibble and again snarfed down the Fancy Feast.

By the third day, they seemed to already get used to spending a night in a strange room and spending long hours in the car. Each time, settling quicker and quicker into their "spots"; Khan in his little bed in the back seat, and Poe at my feet in his, napping till our next stop.

Arizona; where it all began for us.
Again we stopped in another of our old towns to visit with the friends we had while living here, in Holbrook.
We had breakfast for dinner at Denny's and spent the evening chatting and catching up; by moonlight, I visited an old secret I left out in the desert just months before moving from this town, the stick I used as a marker still stood, but a bush had begun growing over top of it.

The secret of what lies underneath is known only to myself, my husband and my good friend (and perhaps a couple more people, hah!)-- all who helped. One day, when the timing is right, it will be unearthed and revealed...

At the crack of dawn, it was back to the road again, bound for Utah.

From here on, it was all new territory for this family. The sights in Utah were incredible! It made me wish I lived in this beautiful state!

We passed beautiful red canyons, and vast rolling hills full of trees of all kinds of magnificent and brilliant colors. The views gave the Grand Canyon a run for its money! They took my very breath away.

Here we made our largest push test with the cats, and headed for Salt Lake City. Our start was a little rocky, I got a little car sick when we hit Winslow, Arizona, and the chilled air was a little hard on me in Page, Arizona-- we made a few stops and I bought a few sweaters and meds.
We reached the city by nightfall, and the cats were starting to get a little anxious, but overall seemed ok-- so in other words, success!

We stayed in yet another La Quinta (only place that was cheap and didn't ask for a pet deposit), but this time there must have been a dog show or something, because there were a lot of people on our floor with fancy dogs. The cats were on edge all night with all the borking and howling. Somehow, we slept through it all.

Next morning, we were Idaho bound.

At first the sights were something to behold, I had never seen so much gold and hills in my life... but by the second hour of nothing but, I started to feel panicked. Northern Utah and pretty much all of Idaho is nothing but rolling golden hills and open sky... with literally no real variation, and we cut through the entire state.

We were going to stay in Boise, but we decided to try and push it to Oregon, since we had a lot of "juice" in us from such a long boring trip. We stopped to refuel in Nampa, we spent a few moments in the gas station and as we were ready to leave... the car wouldn't start.
The battery had apparently died.
I guess if it was to happen, we were lucky it was at a gas station still relatively in town as opposed to being out in the open solitude of the country side...
We called our insurance and they sent people to jump our car an hour later, and again we were counting our lucky stars that there was an Auto Zone open nearby, so we could test and buy a new battery and be on our way.
At the Auto Zone, a woman came running up to us frantic; I didn't understand what she was crying and afraid of, but I let her use my phone. After she called someone several times, she returned my phone and before I could offer any more assistance she darted off in some kind of frenzy.
Some sketchy looking dudes came rolling up in an equally sketchy vehicle, and when they stepped out billows of smoke came out with them.
They eyed me up, and paced around the walkway near where we parked. I had my assisted-opening knife at the ready in my back pocket, and put on my bitchiest bitch face while my hubby installed the new battery.
I gave them a nod, and they left us alone... and soon we were on our way again.

So, Oregon. I don't know what to think of you now. I had always heard of your endless beauty... but I was greeted with loads and loads of roadside garbage. Just look at the stateline sign location, haha!
We decided to go as far as La Grande and call it a night. The town was actually very quaint, so it made up for it a little... except we had to stay in a very shabby looking Rodeway Inn. I was worried about the cleanliness, but it turned out ok. Sheets were awfully gaudy but the beds were clean. Good enough I suppose.

We were all quite pooped from the day. It didn't take long for all of us to fall asleep; this was our last stop till our new home! The Inn offered a continental breakfast surprisingly, which again I wasn't sure about-- they didn't have a dining room, you literally sat in metal chairs in the tiny room-sized lobby... but they had frosted flakes, and I was craving them so it made for a great breakfast, heheh.

Since we had driven to La Grande, it made our final push a small one, the state line came so fast I barely had time to snap a shot of it! Plus it was on a bridge and it was tiny to boot.
By the time we hit Seattle, we were all feeling antsy-- full of anticipation and excitement!
Up until a few days ago, I hadn't personally seen our new home! I entrusted my husband to find a house that would suit our needs. I realize now that I put a lot of trust in him, more than I really realized I did haha!

The house was perfect, though, in a town located Northeast of Mt. Vernon which is one hour North of Seattle.
I felt home, and that's a feeling I never really fully got while I lived in Texas.

It's certainly chilly here, I must say! My new creative laboratory boasts two windows-- our home being a nice corner lot and all. Perfect for sun-bathing, as Khan can be seen here enjoying! Perfect for sewing at all hours of daylight available. I get it all!
Khan and Poe are both doing very well still and settling in beautifully. We're busy busy unpacking and making our home look as much as a home as it feels!

Next post will be all about building my new creative laboratory!
Till then, my fiends,
Spook ya later!
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