How to Get Out of Bed

This article was originally published on Offbeat Home http://offbeathome.com/2014/03/how-to-get-out-of-bed

I get it. What others might see as a chronic case of laziness is actually paralyzing depression. The thought of getting out of bed is like running a marathon. The thought of getting better is like getting a PhD in life, something you want no part of. You haven’t even changed your clothes in four days. Today, we’re going to take it easy. Forget about all those thoughts that are slowly crushing you. Today we’re just going to take a shower. That’s it. Don’t worry if you forget your meds right now. If a shower is too much, run the bath. Just put two feet on the floor, get in there and soak.

Take as long as you need to. Don’t think about the mean things people have said while they thought they were helping. They don’t get it and it’s not your problem. You don’t owe the world anything but your best effort, and it already got you in here, so you’re doing great.

Now look at what you’ve accomplished. More than you have in days. You’re doing it. Let’s build on that. Time to take your meds. It’s an important step. The only thing you have to do today is take your meds.

You’ve done some very important things. Facing the day can be tough, but you’ve already gotten so much out of the way. But there’s just one thing you need to do. All we’re going to do today is get dressed. It can be ugly, it can be comfy, it can be something that makes you feel beautiful. There are no rules. Wear what you want. Don’t worry about impressing anyone. There. Doesn’t that feel better already?

All we’re going to do today is eat. I know you haven’t been hungry, and if you were you don’t feel like you deserve to eat anyway. But you have to eat to live, and for now, for just this moment, that’s what’s going on. You’re living. It’s a big deal, but a bowl of cereal isn’t. You can sit under your therapy light while you eat. You can cuddle your animal or a teddy bear while you eat. Just eat. Eating is showing yourself some of the love that you need right now.

It’s over. You’ve done so much. There are no expectations placed on you today, but do remember that there is a strong correlation between depression and creativity. You might not realize it, but there’s something in there that you’re amazing at. Write, paint, compose. It doesn’t have to be good. You don’t have to finish it. You don’t have to show anyone. But just look what you can do. Look at simply what you can get done. You who thought just an hour ago they couldn’t even get out of bed. This is huge. You can do this.

Perfect Headband Curls

So you saw headband curls on Pinterest, thought “ERMEGERD so cool!”, tried it out, and hated the result. Why must everything on Pinterest be so misleading!! Well I know that you can indeed get perfect curls this way, but the other tutorials seem to skip a couple steps. Let me fill in the blanks.

I’m not going to get too deep into the basics because you already know that by now. But let me just say that if your hair is fairly long, or if you have a hard time keeping one side tightly wrapped while you do the other, two headbands, one for each side, is a good solution. So there you are in all your going-to-bed hotness, you sleep on it, wake up, and now we’re ready to begin.

 

Here’s the front when it’s wrapped, your starting point.

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Realistically, you CAN wear this out of the house.

The back, meanwhile, if you used two headbands, looks like this.

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Ok, so you take the curls out of the headband, and you are immediately disappointed, because it looks like shit.

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The look on your face of course will match this picture as well. This is not what you signed up for! Well it’s at this point that the extra steps come in. First of all, brush it. I know the tutorials all say not to, but fuck that we’re brushing today.

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Then to smooth it out and calm down any frizz, run some mousse through it. So now you got this.

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Ok so now you grab the top layer of each side, hairspray it, and tease it. I like mine to be HUGE.

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I know it’s a little hard to tell the difference between the last two pictures, but trust me that teasing is important. This curling method doesn’t curl your hair at the top, so it can look quite flat compared to the rest. Teasing it helps to even things out, and as far as I’m concerned, big curly hair is the best curly hair.

So just fuss and tinker, and shape the curls by twirling it around in your fingers a bit, you know. I also find a little styler/flat iron thing is great for curling the ends where they got loose from the headband, and calming down any parts that got too curly. I always get one little piece like that in the front. But that’s it! It’s not quite as quick as they lead you to believe, but it’s not bad.

 

Hey, there we go!

Hey, there we go!

And since we all know that any kind of set can often turn out inconsistent when you’re not a pro, here’s another example of my hair at this stage, from about a month or two ago.

There we go!

A less than perfect job and it still looks good!

And on a particularly good day, with particularly good lighting, you might even be able to make it look like this.

Hellooo profile picture.

Hellooo profile picture.

In the set I’ve included pictures of, it looked its very best after sleeping on it for a night. All you have to do in the morning is brush, add a touch of mousse, and ruffle it a bit.

 

Perfect

Perfect

When I wrapped it up again that second night and left it dry, to preserve the curls over a few more days, I timed myself at exactly four minutes. This is officially the absolute quickest way I have ever found to curl my hair, as long as you plan about 5-8 hours ahead. Practice this one, tinker and play with it a bit, and you’re sure to find this will be one of your go-tos too 🙂

I’m a Blond! – Color B4 and Nice ‘N Easy

My hair has been dyed for the last 10 years. For the most part it has been red or red/brown, and at other times it has been white, yellow, blue, green, black, and pink. Most recently it’s been pink into brown (ie faded black) ombre, and I haven’t done my roots in 6 months.

My main reason is laziness. To get my hair pink, as you may have read, I have to dye my roots light blond first, and then the pink dye is a totally separate process. It’s a pain in the ass. I hate it. It’s bullshit and I didn’t want to do it anymore, so I just stopped. That has been leaving me looking a little… blah.

Before, with 6 months of root.

Before, with 6 months of root.

Mr. Strange has been wanting to see me go blond pretty much forever, since that’s my natural color and the color it was when he first met me. He also just likes change. I’ve been feeling a little less than fabulous lately, so I decided to take the plunge and try to go from pink-brown to blond at home. Brave, I most definitely am.

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So here’s what I used to do this. As you know, I HATE bleach. I don’t mean I have anything specific against it, it’s not like it’s ever done anything to hurt me personally. But it’s harsh and I’m afraid to use it so I just don’t. Instead, I used Color B4, which is a color stripper, which I had had lying around for a few months. By some miracle I was also able to find a dye in my exact natural shade (natural medium ash blond), and on sale for 7$.

The way Color B4 works is by shrinking the color molecules in your hair, so that they just rinse away. It doesn’t do anything to lighten your base color, so it’s really safe and doesn’t do anything you don’t want it to. But now here’s where things for me got weird.

 

Umm...WTF?

Umm…WTF?

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Absolutely no blue dye was used in the making of this photo.

Through either some fluke of science or sorcery that I don’t understand, it turned my hair blue. Explain that one, Bill Nye! But it wasn’t some deep rich blue. It looked like it had been a deep rich blue at least 6 months ago and I had now started my own squeegee-ing business. Luckily I stayed totally relaxed about the whole thing (I had been considering doing blue ends anyway) and just went ahead with everything as planned, putting the dye on top of it. I cannot be stopped.

Almost immediately the blue faded away into a nice deep blond. Now let me tell you, the Color B4 was no picnic in that tiny bathroom. It smelled kind of like an open sewer. But it had nothing on the dye. An impenetrable wall of eye-watering toxic stench formed around me and I had to escape to the living room a couple times to catch my breath. I have never experienced anything that bad, so thank god I never have to use it ever again. In Clairol’s defense however, I must say the color turned out spectacular.

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After. About 20$ spent and no trip to the salon required. Am I good at this or what?

I didn’t bother with the roots, because why, and I can see absolutely no demarcation line between them and the dye. The color is not only exactly the same, but just like the box promised it has many tones in it so it looks totally natural. Nice! Well after all, I guess they did owe me after subjecting me to that stink.

I am super happy with the way my hair looks, super proud of myself for making this work on my own, and especially super happy that with my hair back to natural I will no longer be required to do any root upkeep. My current plan is to go ahead and continue playing with color on the bottom half, leaving the top half the hell alone so that dye jobs only have to happen when I want them to, not when I need them to. I would definitely call this a success.

Decorating With Mardi Gras Beads

Mardi Gras is over, and if you’re lucky enough to live in an area that celebrates it, you might be wondering what to do with all this colorful junk you got by flashing everybody. There are plenty of sites out there offering up projects that incorporate Mardi Gras beads, but this is not one of them. Despite not living in New Orleans or Mobile, I absolutely love decorating with Mardi Gras beads as-is. Call me tacky all you want but I think they’re really fun.

One thing that surprised us in New Orleans was that even when it was not Mardi Gras, even when we were not in the French Quarter, the beads seemed to just grow on trees and out of the ground. The trees were beautiful all strung up with the discarded remains of past celebrations like so many outdoor Christmas trees. In fact, the Christmas tree that was put up in the house we were staying at was completely Mardi Gras themed, an idea we immediately took up for our own home and which you MUST remind me to write about come Christmas. But once the trip was over and the Christmas tree was taken down we had to figure out what to do with all these things. The short answer? treat your house like a sexy party animal and put them everywhere.

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There are many places you can drape your beads for a year-round festive effect. It’s also good to remember that it looks by FAR the best when they look like they’ve been tossed half-haphazardly in a romantically tangled mess. This look does not lend itself to neatness, such a thing with Mardi Gras would be damn weird. Some places we’ve put ours?

Tacky? I think not.

Tacky? I think not.

-Hanging from curtain rods

-On doorknobs

-On lamp shades and wall sconces

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-Hanging from chandeliers

-Hanging from all sorts of household plants

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At the bottom of the fruit bowl

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This is a spiderweb bowl, with sparkly spiders 😀

-In the horn of our phonograph, like a new kind of plastic cornucopia.

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Of course there are never enough beads to satisfy me and I’m always looking to get more. Eventually I’d like to place hooks under a shelf in my dressing room and hang from them an absolute curtain of the things as a backdrop for hanging jewelry where it will be easy to access above the vanity. I’d also like to cover the headboard in them, and ever since I saw the house on The Real World New Orleans I dream of having stairs I can decorate in similar fashion. A liberal use of beads is also the essential finishing touch in addition to other decorative items such as jazz album covers on the wall, wrought iron, carnival masks, and of course copious amounts of alcohol in beautiful vintage-style bottles in creating a fun New Orleans themed home. Make the look a little darker with voodoo dolls and skulls and you have yourself a nice little gothic abode where almost anything can happen. It’s not as tacky as you might imagine, and if somehow it still turns out that way, can a place that invites a policy of toplessness ever be a bad thing? Well, only when your relatives come over.

Rescues are the New Crack – How to Prevent Animal Burn-Out

deskcollage

Helping rescue animals is addictive.  It’s not too hard to figure out why. Seeing an animal go from frightened and abused to happy and well-loved is an incredible high. When you think about how many there are still needing help, and how few there are of you, it’s easy to start over-extending yourself. And as well-intentioned as this may be, you’re no good to anybody if you run yourself ragged. Consider this post your guide to avoiding dogaholics/cataholics anonymous and ending up on Animal Hoarders.

Time: The more animals you take in the more time it takes up; walking, cleaning, grooming, playing, training, vet visits and more. If your circle of friends starts to fade away, or you find yourself neglecting other important duties, consider scaling back the number of animals in your house at one time. Consider also that you have to divide your attention between all these animals as well as your own. Ask yourself – is everybody getting all the one-on-one time they need to be well-socialized and emotionally healthy? How about your lover/roommate/kids? If somebody comes to you asking for cuddles or other attention, are you  able to accommodate them?

Money: If you lose your house or can’t pay the rent, where will the poor little dears stay? Make sure you’re not donating so much of your money that you have none left to sustain a reasonable lifestyle for yourself. If you haven’t yet used up all of your free time, consider organizing a fundraiser instead. This is something you can do with friends and family too, which is great because chances are they might kind of miss you by now.

Sanitation: Are the animal beds laundered, the floors washed and vacuumed, and the yard clean, or is the whole thing starting to become a smelly poo-filled mess? Sanitation is extremely important for both you and your critters, so if things are starting to get out of hand you need to take a step back and get things back under control. Nobody wants to get rescued from one filthy house only to end up in another. Clean that shit or scale back your rescue efforts.

Emotions: Yes, it’s an amazing feeling when your foster pet finds their loving forever home. But it can be a painful one, too. Consider it your heart’s growing pains. If you’re not careful it could break. Your animals want you to be happy just as much as you want them to be, so make sure you’re able to keep yourself in a positive state of mind, for their sake and yours. Sometimes you just need a bit of a break, and that’s ok!

For anyone devoted to helping animals in need, you are amazing and I thank you. Let’s support each other by making sure we’ll be able to continue doing so for as long as possible.

How to Give Your Own Cheap Ass a Hair Cut

I have a confession to make. I have not seen my stylist in a year. Please know that it’s not because I’ve been disloyal. It’s because I’m a cheap fuck; I have engaged in the sin of self-hair-cutting, and sometimes sin feels good.

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This is for anyone with medium to long hair. Like many of my methods, this is the frankenstein combination of various others I’ve gathered from around the internet and put together to make my very own idiot-friendly creation. To do this is typically considered either brave or stupid, but considering that hair grows, and common sense tells us to cut a little less than we actually want to so we have room to go in case we panic and run to a salon for a fix, I would call this merely brave. Let’s begin.

I do this on dry hair. It moves around more easily and wet hair shrinks as it dries, so this way you get no nasty surprises. We are going to start by cutting the layers first. I know this is unusual but considering they’re the most daunting part I like to start here, go slow, and then make the length match up to where I want it. If you don’t want layers, skip the rest of this paragraph. First choose an area on your head where you want the layers to be shortest, from which they will progressively radiate outward, and put your hair in a perfectly smooth ponytail at that exact spot. I like layers around my face, which means I place my ponytail in the middle of my forehead, making me look like a demented unicorn. Now all you’re going to do is cut the ponytail. Go slowly here. Even if this means you didn’t cut enough and have to keep doing it again, it’s free so who cares, better safe than sorry. I tend to cut about one inch at a time. Because your hair gets progressively longer as it moves away from the ponytail, placing it here will result in a very vintage-friendly face-framing rounded shape, not to be confused with an authentic middy cut but which still totally does the job.

Warning #1: Do not judge the length until you’ve brushed it all out. After being in this crazy high ponytail it might want to still go up before it goes down, making you think you cut way more than you actually did. Do not panic. You did not magically cut one inch that turned into five, physics do not work that way.

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When the layers you want the shortest are about where you feel they belong, it’s time to move on to the next step, the overall length. It can be helpful here if you like to use the neckline of a shirt as a guide, from modest bateau to deep and plunging. Part your hair where you normally keep it and bring it all towards the front. Doing just one side at a time, lean your head wayyyy back, brush and gently clasp the ends of your hair between your fingers. Tilting your head like this ensures the angle will be right when it’s done. Again, cut less than you really want to. I am VERY conservative here, because we all know what happens when you have to keep evening it out and all of a sudden there’s half a head of hair on the floor, right? Right.

Finally, the last step is to check how even it is at the back. Grab a hand mirror and take a look. are there any pieces that are just too long? Make a low ponytail, perfectly centered, and slide the elastic gently down until you can pull the ends of the ponytail within view. Now you’re NOT cutting for length here in the least, you’re just grabbing all the bits that escaped. Check again. It should be all good!

Warning #2: If you hair is dirty, slept-on, previously styled or whatever, you might think it looks like crap. Before you decide to be disappointed, don’t cut one more hair. Just get in the shower and wash it. Once it’s all clean, dry, and lying where it should you’ll probably notice a huge difference. I absolutely love my hair cut this way.

It’s at this point that if you’re a bit obsessive like me, you can start grabbing random sections and tweaking them. I tend to play with it for days afterwards, even though it always comes out looking exactly the same. Whatever, it’s fun. It’s especially fun to be able to say you’ve cut this fabulous style all by yourself and enjoy the tons of money you’ll save. Lookin’ good!

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For more awesome hair-cutting tutorials go check out howtohairgirl.com. I love that site.

Androgynous Style

Whether you’re agender, third gender, both genders, or just looking to explore new style territory, androgynous style can be a challenge. But for women, this can be easier to pull off for than for men. Not that men should ever be concerned about what others think either! And while this post is primarily geared towards bio-women, bio-men may find something useful in this as well. Androgyny is for everyone after all. Now, I’ve come to understand that those who really aren’t looking for a feminine style tend to dress a little… lazy. I don’t mean this as a judgement. But when you’re unsure or just a little apathetic, jeans and tshirts can get you into a bit of a rut. Here are some fresh ideas, along with some basics for those looking to try this out for the first time.

First of all, the most important thing I think to ask yourself is – What elements of my current style would I keep if I suddenly woke up in a man’s (or woman’s) body? Even if your answer includes dresses and skirts, these things are part of your style that really fit you and represent who you are. Keep them, no matter how girly (or masculine) they may be. Your answer to this may change day to day and that’s ok too. I know for a fact that if I was a dude I would totally still rock long pointed nails, though I may be more bothered by it when a fresh dye-job stains them pink. Also not such a great idea for job interviews.

Clothes. While I still recommend clothing made for women as they’re tailored to the shape of your body, we’re lucky that unlike it was in the past, it’s easy to find women’s clothes that are inspired by menswear. There are also varying degrees of this and in various styles. We can easily find traditional and edgy suits, boyfriend jeans, and unisex items like tshirts and sweaters, and button downs in any store. Trench coats and pea coats are universally flattering. For underneath, minimizing bras and shapewear for the hips will help streamline those curves, should you so desire.

Accessories. You might not want to wear a tie in the traditional way, but have you thought about wearing one as a belt? Sweater vests look awesome on anyone, and while you may want to skip jewelry altogether, keeping things basic or edgy is a way to make it work with this style. Unisex perfume is available at various shops such as Goth Rosary. Newsboy hats are adorable and dapper. And call me a hipster, but I love pocket watches. I’ve also been known to wear a black underbust corset (of course) in the style of a waistcoat. For many of us, ditching a bag isn’t an option, but you don’t have to carry a traditional purse. Book bags and laptop bags can be carried by anyone. My own favorites are messenger bags because I can wear them instead of carrying them and they’re big enough for my books and all the garbage that eventually piles up inside. These bags also tend to appear much more simple and casual than girly. My new one has a ouija board design.

Hair. You don’t have to get a pixie cut, though I have to say this is gorgeous. Women don’t have a monopoly on long hair, so keep that in mind. For style, simple and natural does the trick. If you like curling your hair, go for tousled waves over perfect ringlets. Bed-head, slicked back, a classic low ponytail or just regular ol’ down are easy. Some other fun options are a pompadour with a ponytail or french twist, or hidden under a hat. If you have long hair and want to fake a cut, sweep your hair back and over your head so that the ends fall down your forehead like bangs. Use a firm headband to hold this in place. Then hide the the majority of it with a hat, and style the front however you like, such as side-swept, bed-head, or spikey. For color consider going all natural, super natural-looking, or try bright and fun colors like blue and green. I’d stay away from natural colors in unnatural shades, like the type of thing you get with brands like Feria.

Makeup. Of course, skipping makeup altogether is the most obvious option, but some of us just aren’t that brave or laid back. To bring out your best without obviously having anything on, try BB cream or a light foundation, translucent powder, and some light bronzer on your temples and under your cheek bones for dimension and contouring. If a more obvious look is more your style, try a bold eye in a neutral color like black or grey, and keep lips looking more natural with a clear or neutral lip balm.

While there’s plenty other info out there on feminine looks inspired by men, there’s an unfortunate lack for those who just want to appear truly androgynous. So if you have any ideas or tips to share please comment or share some pics! Let’s brainstorm this up.

Meet Ginger, our first foster fail

It wouldn’t quite be fair to call this a fail. Although I had been strongly considering fostering more and adopting less, for financial reasons as well as wanting to help out as many dogs as possible, once Lulu died there was an open space in our home that was just too tempting to fill. Ginger, a daschund/chihuahua cross was rescued after living for two years outdoors on a two foot leash with nothing but an uninsulated dog house to shield her from the coldest weather. It’s amazing that she survived, and she was unconscious when she was finally rescued. True, she was the first new dog to come along, as she arrived to our home the very same night that Lulu suddenly left us. But Mr. Strange, as much as he adores all animals, is a fussy guy when it comes to choosing his favorites, and according to him he would have been in trouble with this little temptress either way. It takes a lot to enamor him so completely. Our forever-puppy loved him back too, and it’s always hard to picture that moment that looks like betrayal, when we hand them off to go to their new homes after for all we know they thought this was it, especially knowing we may very well not ever see them again. It hurts, and to think that this one will not have to endure that moment, that this one can be right in her happy assumptions that we are her new family, is just too tempting. Besides, there was a practical aspect to this as well, one I very carefully considered.

Usually a dog will choose their favorite, their love at first sight, and this person will be basically their one and only. For Ginger, this is most definitely Mr. Strange, but she has a lot of affection for me as well and won’t hesitate to follow me around the house asking me to play with her. She also happens to like the cats, and in this rare case they actually seem to like her back. She’s been chasing them all over the place, wagging her little tail hoping for a game of tag, and not once yet has she been smacked in the face for it. Then as tempting as it is to keep the saddest most unfortunate dog we find, who we can assume will have a tougher time impressing potential families, we considered that her happiness would be infectious and therefor beneficial to other foster dogs in our care who may need a bit of a pick-me-up from someone of their own species. So to put it simply, she just fits with us. We were able to open our hearts to one of these dogs on permanent basis and the one who fit the bill was the very first one who came along. Mr. Strange says that she was sent to us by Lulu herself.

I can’t wait until the weather warms up and I can take Ginger out for walks, watching her tiny little legs toddle happily down the sidewalk. With Lulu gone and a fur-maternal instinct begging for a way to be expressed, I want to spoil her, give her toys to tear to pieces and buy her shoes to keep her little feet warm in the snow. And when her tiny body is too tired or too cold to keep going I can tuck her into my big bag and take her home where she’ll help us in our mission to change dogs’ lives. Welcome to the family, Ginger!

Ginger

Lulu 2006-2014

It was yesterday, on February 5th that the world lost a very special little dog. She touched our hearts and saved lives, and even in death she will continue to be a force of good in the lives of dogs in need.

Lulu was raised in a puppy mill in Missouri, the state with the highest concentration of puppy mills. There she was injured and abused and learned to fear, but her spirit could not be crushed. She came to us at the end of August 2012, and we instantly knew we had to be the ones to give her a real home and show her what love is. For the entire time she was with us we were dedicated to this, and lived for the moments when she was happy, which had finally become frequent after we started fostering dogs.

I remember sitting on the floor with treats trying to get her to come close to me, but needing to slide them to her because she wouldn’t come. I remember when she was so scared about me picking her up that she peed. And I remember when the call went out for foster families from the rescue we had adopted her from. Her life changed then. Because we felt she would be lonely if unable to fully be comfortable with us, we gave her many friends this way, and she loved every one of them. We saw her smile, wag her tail, jump and play. The last one she knew, Ben, was one to whom she could return the favor.

Lulu had always had dental problems. Because papillions are a breed that requires more dental attention than most, and her proper care had been neglected for so long. On Friday the right side of her mouth started to swell, and we noticed she was experiencing some discomfort. Under anesthesia, during dental work on Tuesday, her jaw broke apart as a tooth was removed, one of only a few she had remaining. Under X-ray it was revealed she had bone cancer. The vet was amazed she had been eating normally, because under the circumstances it was evident she must have been in a lot of pain. But she never showed it. Lulu was an extremely strong little girl. She could live through almost anything. She had a joyful attitude and no matter what life threw at her she just kept going. But now it was time to end her pain. Bone cancer in dogs simply does not get better. Because this was discovered under anesthesia, she never knew her jaw had broken. She never had to be bottle-fed and didn’t have to linger in pain for months. Finally this sweet little girl could be free.

Our lives are now dedicated to fostering and helping animals in need. Lulu inspired this and we will continue to do this for the rest of our lives. We will miss her dearly but her memory will live on in each dog that, because of her, gets a second chance. We were so blessed to have her in our lives, even though our time together was short. It wasn’t fair that she had to suffer so much. We hope that through her this suffering can turn into something good, so that suffering in others is prevented. Lulu was an angel, and is now even more so.

Please consider fostering or supporting an animal rescue. Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely, for that one dog the world will change forever. Rest in peace, little darling.

DIY Bookshelf

If you’re like me and you have a habit of occasionally reading and getting angry, as most people do, you’ll know that “bookcases” sold in stores exist only for storing a small pot of flowers and a couple CDs. Trying to store actual books on them is an absurd idea, as you will no doubt see here.

Sonofabitch!!

Sonofabitch!!

It is almost always true that the older something is, the more it was built to last. So vintage or antique bookcases are always superior, and often more beautiful,  but not always affordable. It may also happen that the place in which you’d like to store your books is not ideal for a bookcase. So this, Strangers, is why I built my own, and why you should consider doing so too.

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First of all, this shelf is built right into the wall, instead of being a standalone book case. So to give it a more “complete” look as opposed to something just floating (which is still not at all a bad choice) I covered the wall where the shelves would be with an accenting wallpaper, which came in a little roll at Walmart. Our living room is a beautiful grey-blue, so for the wallpaper I chose a distressed silver damask. I would also love to make a second accent with this above the mantle, but that will be for another day. The exact height of the paper doesn’t really matter. I matched mine up with the light switch and thus is looks somewhat like a back splash. You may want to get some help with this, because putting it up is very awkward. Consider it a team-building exercise.

A shelf I built 8 years ago with bird feeder hangers, and a great place to display my sword.

A shelf I built 8 years ago with bird feeder hangers, and a great place to display my sword.

Next up, the brackets. To know how far up the shelves need to be from each other, measure with your largest book. That way you’ll know that all of your books will fit and won’t have to be placed front end down, because that’s annoying and you can’t easily see what the book is that way. As far as horizontal distance, we placed each bracket more towards the center than on the absolute edges of the space to prevent bowing of the shelves. The longer your shelves are of course, the more brackets you’ll need. You can get these at different price points from Home Depot, but years ago I used beautiful wrought iron bird feeder hangers that cost just $2 each, so keep in mind that improvising is totally ok here. Remember also to use a level.

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For our own shelves we salvaged what was left of the old bookcase, but barring any available scrap you can get some small sturdy shelf boards from Home Depot or even better just cut some solid wood to size and stain it the shade of rich mahogany, or whatever color you prefer. You don’t absolutely need to secure the boards to the brackets. We didn’t. You’ll see here that although we used a level, the boards appear to be slanted. This is because the actual house is slanted, so what can you do.

Because our baseboards are quite high and we didn’t want to ruin them with holes, we used the baseboards themselves as a support system for the bottom shelf. To prop up the remaining corner we piled beautiful yet totally useless old dictionaries to the correct height. If your house is similar to ours in this way you can do the same thing, and use anything you like here, like a pretty dowel or a skull.

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Speaking of skulls, no spooky library is complete without one, so among some of the decorative features I placed on the shelves is a beautiful skull candle. The wax inside is red so it looks like it’s bleeding when you light it, but we thought it was just too pretty to burn. Don’t overdo the decorations though, this is a place for books after all. If your decorative items are heavy and unbreakable enough you can use them as book ends. Just to be sure though I used some cheap standard ones I got from Staples. You’re going to need book ends if your shelf doesn’t have sides!

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Ta-Da!

Creating shelf space in this way doesn’t have to be just for books, and is ideal for small spaces. We did this for night stands, and you can also put a very long shelf on the wall behind your couch to act as a console table or end table. You can even create a lovely little surface by lining an old drawer with beautiful wall paper and hanging it vertically on the wall as you can see in this lovely example. Of course once I do this I’ll probably still fill it with books.