Thursday, October 25, 2012

McBirthday McBat Bike

McBaby turned one! This year went by so fast, and we have a lot to be grateful for.  Some of you may have seen the super-awesome Batmobile/Cozy Coupe my mom, and my sister, Sara, painted:

I wanted to give McBaby something to go with it so I was pretty excited when I bagged this prize for $1 at the thrift store:

Yeah, I know, it wasn't exactly screaming "Awesome Batmaness!!!!" yet. It was in good shape, rolled straight, and didn't have any cosmetic problems, (other than some nasty sticky residue on the handle). After a serious cleaning it was pretty much as good as new. Time for the paint job. First I stuck painter's tape to some wax paper and cut out some bat symbols:

I just free-handed one side and folded it in half to make it symmetrical when cutting it out, but you could print a bat symbol and trace it if you aren't lazy like me. Then I sprayed some parts of the bike yellow:

Then I stuck my bat symbols on and covered the yellow parts with saran wrap and more tape.

Then came the black paint. I recommend using a good quality outdoor spray paint.

Ta da! finished bat bike! Happy birthday McBaby! We love you and we are so lucky to have you!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Guest Post, Heather Von St. James

Today marks the first guest post on McEwen and McEwen. I have internet-met a brave lady named Heather who overcame Mesothelioma, cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Her story is frightening and inspiring. Thanks Heather!
 “You have cancer...”

I heard these fateful words during the happiest time of my life: I was a proud new mom of an almost four-month-old baby. How can I have cancer? I thought. Specifically, I had malignant pleural mesothelioma cancer caused primarily by asbestos exposure.

The first question people ask me after I tell them about my cancer is “Asbestos? Isn’t that banned?” (No.) And the next question is always “How were you exposed?” (Secondary exposure.) It didn’t take me long to trace the origins of my exposure. You see, my father worked in construction and did mainly drywall taping, mudding and sanding. As a result, his work clothes accumulated dust throughout the day. This dust contained asbestos, and he brought it home not only on his clothes, but also on his jacket, in his car…everywhere. What we believed was innocent white dust was filled with millions of microscopic asbestos fibers.

At the time I was diagnosed at age 36, the Mayo clinic had heard of only one other case in someone so young. The mesothelioma patient is typically an older male who worked in the trades, such as plumbing, heating, electrical, mechanic, or who was in the military and spent time on ships. Women who worked as secretaries in schools laden with asbestos were also prime candidates for cancer. But then the wives of tradesmen began getting sick. Some of these women had done their husbands’ laundry for years, and they’d always shaken out the dusty, asbestos-caked clothing before putting it in the washer. Secondary exposure was proving deadly.

I was the start of an alarming trend in which the next generation of mesothelioma sufferers began to show up. An increasing number of young people are being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Those now ill were the children who had gone to school in buildings where the asbestos tiles were crumbling and who had played in
the asbestos-contaminated vermiculite insulation in their attics (and in millions of other homes across America). These children were the Daddy’s girls who had routinely jumped into their fathers’ arms at the end of a long day to welcome him home with a hug and had then gone to feed their rabbits wearing Daddy’s dusty jacket because they didn’t want their jackets to get dirty. There were the children who hung out with their dads, who had arrived home after a day of work installing insulation around pipes.

As I become more involved in the mesothelioma community, I meet more young men and women, in their late 20s and early 30s, who are just starting their lives with marriages, babies, and new jobs. It all comes to a screeching halt when they are diagnosed and must focus on beating mesothelioma. But there is good news:
advances in the treatment of this disease are helping more people—of all ages—to become survivors.

Hearing “You have cancer” is devastating, but there is hope for those of us in the fight against mesothelioma. And we win when we come together as a community to share our experience, to support one another, to cry when things aren’t working and, yes, to celebrate the victories.

So why am I sharing my story? To increase awareness. Nothing will change unless more people become aware of mesothelioma. If my story helps someone newly diagnosed or someone living in fear of mesothelioma, then I am doing the right thing. Here is a great, very short video for anyone who wants to learn more:

Friday, October 05, 2012

Dollar Store Floral Arrangement

I found this adorable cream colored vase at the thrift store for $1.00, and I have been trying to find something good to put in it. Yesterday McBaby and I went to the dollar store and bought a few bundles of fake flowers (the classiest ones the dollar store had to offer!) and a foam football.

McBaby was probably thinking this football was for him to add to his collection of foam footballs, but I made him  take a nap and then sliced off the top of that ball like it was a loaf of bread.

I don't know how much it costs to just buy a styrofoam ball, but I know they don't sell those at the dollar store and we didn't have time to drive around town hunting for one. Also the football has a nice semi-pointy bottom that helps it sit in the vase.

Then, as if lopping off the top did not shame this football enough, I took the hot glue gun and started sticking flowers all over it. First the big ones, and then the little ones.

I put it on my shelf with my stick arrangement (which I also stuck little dollar store blossoms on, to make things look less deadish.)

Maybe Handsome Bryce will think this is too girly, but it IS a football underneath...

I think it looks pretty cute from the front.

Unfortunately I really under-estimated how many flowers it takes to cover a cheapy foam football, so the back doesn't look too hot right now.
Another dollar store another day I guess!

Meanwhile, McBaby has been trying to figure out a way to escape from his crib, to stop me from destroying toys.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Thrift Store Canvas 2

 I told you in an earlier post that I like to paint over canvases I got in the thrift store. Here is another canvas that I got:

It didn't have black edges, but I couldn't wait to start painting this ugly thing.


The Rolling Stones and I painted it black. Then I painted this on it:

Ta Da!!! I am pretty happy with how this one turned out.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Branches in a Vase

While we were living in our little apartment, waiting for our house to close, I was so so anxious to be in our new house. I worked on a few projects to keep me busy and to get ready for our new place. The trouble with buying a house, though, is that houses are expensive and that leaves only very little money for decorating them. So all of my projects came from thrift store finds.

Above are two shelves that I got for $3 and $4. They were not in bad shape, but they weren't really great either. The cheap finish was chipped, exposing bright white wood. I liked the grain of the wood though, and wanted to keep it.

I used General Finishes gel stain in "Java" and I was so happy with the results! The stain is pretty cheap considering how far a tiny bit can go. I had planned on doing a few coats, but they looked perfect after one so I stopped. Then I sealed them with a satin finish, (also from General Finishes).

 One of the last days in the tiny apartment, McBaby decided to pour his own cereal since I was taking too long.

Then we moved in, hooray! Handsome Bryce put my shelves on the wall, and they looked so great that I knew I needed something bold and exciting to put on them. I wanted to go to Hobby Lobby or something to buy some decorative sticks, but again with the $$$. Bryce suggested that I just pick some sticks myself. I was against this idea because I wanted clean sticks, and I wanted them to have some kind of decorative buds or blossoms or something (but I didn't want to pick a real branch with those because buds and blossoms get shrivelly and gross.)

I thought about it though, and got a brilliant idea. First McBaby and I went for a walk and found some sticks. They came from a big dead sage brush bush. They were filthy and covered in loose bark. Sick.

 So I washed them very furiously. I used dish soap and a thick rag and just scrubbed the dickens out of those branches. I also scrubbed off 90% of the icky bark, leaving no room for icky bugs or bug eggs. Then I let them sit in the sun to dry.

Here is the genius part: I took a bag of dry white beans that we have had for about 100 years. (We don't eat a lot of beans around here.) These would be my buds. They were the perfect size  and do not get shriveled or crumbly.

 I spread them out and sprayed one side with metallic copper colored spray paint. I love spray paint.

I only sprayed one side because I am lazy, and because I wanted them to have some contrast.

Then I took a hot glue gun and glued the beans all over my branches. I found it looked best to group beans in twos and threes with the occasional  lone bean. You could display the branches without any beans, but I think it adds the nice finished touch that I was looking for in store-bought branches. You could also add some little blossoms if you wanted; I am still debating about whether or not I will.

I put a lot of gravel in my vase and worked the branches into it. If your vase is opaque you could use plaster, branches are heavy and unwieldy, so you need something to make the base heavy enough to balance. I still haven't determined what else to put on my fabulous shelves, but for now I am happy with my branches.