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Saturday, September 21, 2013

le Bon Ton Nouveau!

Since the beginning of modern civilization, the tastefulness of wedding ceremonies has been avidly discussed.  "Is her dress too short?" "Is the Hummer Limo tacky?" "Were the canapes from Sam's Club?" and most importantly" "Why wasn't there an open bar?" are all frequent morning-after questions that modern matrimonial guests discuss.

As "gay marriage" becomes the norm in more and more countries, states, and municipalities around the world, many more questions may be discussed. "What WAS she wearing?" "I wonder which is the bride?"and "Why did the open bar run out of liquor?!" are all questions likely to be discussed after gay matrimonial events.

For years, Emily Post, and later, Miss Manners Judith Martin, were the "go-to gals" for all things wedding... the tastemakers, the trend spotters, the problem solvers. However, the all-new world of gay marriage comes with its own set of predicaments, and our own Miss Ginger Grant is all too happy to step in and guide the uncouth masses in the tasteful and gracious way to consummate gay matrimony.

Case in point: Houston personal trainer and bod-about-town Eric Turner is soon to be wed to his beloved uber hunk, some foreign guy Miss Ginger has yet to meet. Anyho, Eric and Hunky have chosen to be married in South Africa, since it is legal there, and hunky's parents live there, and it is more exotic than, say, Delaware.

So far, the story is straightforward (gayforward?!) but it quickly goes awry.  Internet checkpoint Gawker picked up a story that Eric had started a "gofundme.com" account to raise funds to fly his parents to South Africa for the nuptials. The boys realize that all of their friends can't make it to South Africa, so they have planned 3 additional events "around the globe for friends and family to celebrate" their union. This was all stated on the "gofundme.come" page, along with the plea to help Eric's parents attend "their favorite son's" wedding.



Now, Miss Ginger doesn't know Eric other than facebook friendship, though she must admit he did catch her eye at her recent appearance at the Mint Julep shindig in August. You may recognize his biceps smile on the far left. 
The question brought up by gawker, in a nutshell, is "is it tacky to ask for specific gifts from your wedding guests?" And should one expect and anticipate gifts at all? 



Traditionally, department stores and better gift stores have offered registries for a bride's selection of china, crystal, and silver, both to ensure the bride received a usable assortment of the above, and to help the store ensure the correct patterns were in stock at the time of her wedding.  Later, the bride was encouraged to register for all sorts of things to help her make a gracious new home, and registry helped to prevent duplicated gifts and to enable easier exchanges. More recently, the groom has been involved, and registries have expanded from department stores and gift emporiums to places as common as the Home Depot and Target. Why not give a young couple, just starting out, the items they will need to make a new house into their home. For most, it is sensible and expected.


The world's largest store, recognizing that brides exchange a large portion of the gifts they receive, has started offering a "dream fund", which is essentially an open-ended gift card, the value of which is increased by generous wedding guests who don't want to make a decision about which item they want to give. This eliminates the need for exchanges altogether, and makes things easier for the guest and the bride. 

So, the idea of a "gofundme" site for an engaged couple is not far from the same concept. There are, however, a couple of subtle nuances that can make the idea seem much more gracious. Here are a few ideas Miss Ginger would like to foster.



First, it should never be assumed that the couple will receive gifts from any specific person.  A registry is okay, because it lists, in general terms, a brides preferences for things she made need or want, but puts no specific expectation on who will buy them.  In small towns with only one or 2 stores, there is no need to for a bride to publicize that she is registered, as guests can usually figure it out.  In larger cities, with so many options available, a bride often includes a card in her announcement or invitation that reveals where she has registered.  As long as it is worded and viewed as a convenience to the recipient of the invitation, and not an expectation on the part of the bride, this practice is usually appreciated by all parties.

On the flip side, registries should never be publicized to people who aren't invited to the wedding.  To send a registry card, or in modern times, email or other online posts, to people who aren't invited to the wedding is just plain tacky.  If they think enough of you to give you a gift, you should think enough of them to invite them to the wedding. Non-negotiable.

In the case of multiple celebrations, which happen frequently in this age of "destination" weddings, people invited to one celebration should not be expected to enhance the experience of guests at another event. Case in point: Eric's guests at a "reception" in Houston should not be expected to provide funding for his parent to attend an event in South Africa. If a card or email were sent to only the South Africa guests explaining the "gofundme" post, it is probably just as tasteful as any other registry announcement.  If the request went to anyone else: tacky. 

For the record, the gofundme site mentioned in this article has been closed and deleted.

What say ye, GingerSnaps?! Tasteful or tacky? 



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Like Sands Through the Hourglass.... !

Would you believe this beautiful tchochke is made entirely of trash?! With a little scrap wood, a couple of empty bottles, and a lot of imagination you can make a beautiful hourglass as a gift to remember a special time with someone, or for yourself, to time your eggs in the morning! Miss Ginger has spent some time perfecting this technique, and this example is her latest creation.  This one is pretty large, with the glass elements coming from 2 large magnum wine bottles.  Boy G created all of the pieces for her on his new lathe, but you could also adapt this technique to use precut discs from the craft store and some rescued spindles from a thrift store chair. Miss Ginger left this one plain, but you could also personalize it with nifty paint job or some etching on the glass. Her one regret on this design is that she used white sand from the craft store, and added blue and silver glitter to make it sparkly, and it kind of looks like she is counting the minutes with powdered laundry detergent! 


It's glued in there now, so there's no going back! Here's another one she made, with step-by-step instructions:


The first step is to find 2 matching bottles  and cut the bottoms off. Depending on the shape of your bottles, you may need to cut the neck back, as well.  These Zing-Zang bottles have served Miss G well, and now, they will be with her for eternity! 










To connect the bottles, Boy G made this little wooden piece by using a hole saw to cut a disc, and then used a forstner bit in the drill to make the indentations. Miss Ginger thinks you could probably find a napkin ring that would work if this is beyond your skills. 










Here are all of her parts, ready for assembly. In addition to the 2 bottles and the connector, she has 3 spindles and 2 discs that Boy G made on the lathe. The discs have a channel cut that the bottle fits into. You can cut out the discs with a large hole saw, and cut the channel with a smaller one. There are also holes drilled for the spindles, which required Miss Ginger to recall her high school geometry! Click here to learn how to find 3 equidistant points on the circumference of a circle! 

Beginning at the bottom, glue the glass element to the base by filling the channel with E6000 Adhesive, and then placing the glass. You'll need to let this dry before you move on. E6000 is the perfect adhesive for this because it bonds well to both glass and wood, levels itself and fills the void between the glass and the wood, and dries rock hard and crystal clear. And, it's made in the great state of Louisiana! 










The connector goes on next. Once that's dry, you can add the other bottle on top. Be sure that you don't get adhesive in the hole of your connector or your hourglass will be frozen in time! 















Use wood glue to set the spindles into holes on the base piece.  Let everything get good and dry at this point

Once all of the glue has dried, it's time to fill and calibrate your hourglass.  Miss Ginger used regular garden sand in this one, which she had sifted several times to get all the pebbles out of it. You can also use colored sand from the craft store or an aquarium supply store.  (Now that she has perfected the assembly technique, Miss Ginger is going to experiment with different types of filler and different size holes to see if she gets different run times!)

Start a stopwatch and begin pouring sand into the upper chamber.  As the sand runs through, keep adding sand until you get close to your desired time.  Miss G filled this one for 3 minutes.



Once you have filled it, flip the whole thing over into a bowl and let the sand run out, to double check your timing.  This also gives you the opportunity to remove some sand if you overpoured the first time.


Once you have the correct amount of sand, pour it back in and let it run to the bottom.  Fill the channel in the upper disc with adhesive, and apply wood glue to the holes for the spindles. Working quickly, place the top onto the glass, guiding the spindles into their holes.  Once the top is in place, flip the hourglass over to let the adhesive level out and harden.  (If you don't flip it over, the glue will slowly run down the glass and ruin your work.) Let it dry completely, and your heirloom is ready for giving or using! 

BTW, if your skills with wood and glass are limited, you can get a similar effect using plastic bottles and foam board. 





Trading Spaces!

Miss Ginger has spent a lot of time showing you her beautiful craft space inside the house, so she decided it's long overdue to show you the space Boy G made for himself in the extra bay of the garage!  He's been spending a lot of time out there lately, and that's why he hasn't been keeping this blog updated like he should! Now's the time to "write that wrong!" (Did you see what he just did there?! Try the veal, folks- he's here all week! )

Boy G built this sturdy workbench to give himself plenty of space for working up top, plus lots of room down below for storage.  The big tools are all arranged in an "L" shape along the wall behind it, and across the opening of the bay door. 

All of those tools generate lots of sawdust, but most dust collectors are large and would waste way too much space, but Boy G didn't want to have to drag a shop vac from tool to tool, either.

His solution was to use a wall-mounted shop vac like this one, and to use 1- 1/2 inch PVC pipe to permanently route the suction to each tool.  He knew PVC would work, since that what is used in the house's central vacuum system, but he needed to be able to control the flow of air at each tool, since the shop vac can only create enough suction to clear one tool at a time.  Another dilemma:  the blast gates designed to go on regular shop equipment are too large for this PVC jury rig.







Miss Ginger to the rescue! That girl loves to shop, and she found these PVC valves at the home center, and they work perfectly! Boy G opens just the one on the tool he is using, and the full suction of the shop vac pulls the dust away! 


The other problem Boy G quickly discovered is that the filters on shop vacs clog very quickly with that much sawdust moving across them.


The answer is this little gem, attached to the top of a 5 gallon bucket! The Dust Deputy is fitted between the shop vac and the PVC running to the tools, and it uses the principles of a cyclone to to remove the sawdust from the airstream before the air reaches the filters. Maximum suction all the time and no clogged filters- ingenious! The Dust Deputy definitely earns Miss Ginger's coveted: 

5 LIPSTICKS AWARD!


Boy G also added this little treasure to his collection- the Jet 10141 Mini Lathe.  It's just a little fella compared to a normal woodworking lathe, but it's perfect for spinning wood into all sorts of FABULOUS pieces for Miss Ginger's projects.  It is solid as a rock, and really fun to use! 





Stay tuned to see what kind of "trash to treasure" trinkets the G's have teamed up to create! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stemming From Disaster...

Does this happen at your house as often as it does at Chez Ginger?  It seems to happen a lot around here- not sure if that is due to Miss G's exquisitely delicate stemware her her stupendously clumsy nature, but rarely a week goes by that we don't end up with a fallen soldier! Luckily, in her never-ending quest to transform all trash to treasure, Miss Ginger has found a way to rescue some of these casualties! 


For her first makeover, Miss Ginger is going to attempt a "full restoration", and for that, she is going to need a stem donor. Luckily, there are plenty of those around, as well.  Before she can attempt the reattachment, however, she has to get rid of the lifeless stump left from the severed bowl...
so, using her rotary tool with surgical precision, she amputates the dead bowl, leaving a perfect stem in place.


Of course, a "makeover" has to leave the subject better than before, so a little bit of embellishment is in order. 










Miss Ginger chose an understated wooden accent for this makeover (because she had a big ole box of wooden beads handy!) but you could use any type of decorative bead to make your rescued stem as glitzy and bejeweled as you like! Just make sure that the hole in the bead accommodates the stem snuggly.  A wooden bead is easy because you can ream out the hole with your Dremel to get the proper fit. This glass with a wooden bead will need to be hand washed, but if you use a ceramic, glass, or plastic bead with epoxy adhesive, your glass should be dishwasher safe!  After her next rowdy dinner party, Miss Ginger will have enough raw materials on hand to make a beaded service for 12! 





Here's another use for a bowl that has outlived it's stem... a clever keepsake cloche to display your favorite tiny treasures!  Just trim the stem, glue on a bead for a "knob", and cap the hole with wooden finial or another bead.















In this version, Miss G used a champagne cork as the knob, by drilling a hole in the cork and gluing it on. What could be easier?  This one's her favorite, and it highlights one of her favorite keepsakes, so now that the crafts are finished, she's going to bore you with that story! 

First, you must know, is is not a tiny wineglass- those dice are much larger than standard.   When Boy G was a wee lad, he and his older brothers loved to visit Aunt Nen and Uncle George's house- the photo in the background was taken in 1927, around the time of their marriage.  Uncle George passed away before Baby G was born, but he was an honorable namesake, and there were many stories told about his exciting life! Aunt Nen and Uncle George lived all over the world, and collected all kinds of neat treasures, like the ivory elephant and these oversized dice.  None of us are sure where the dice were acquired, but they are nonetheless significant to our childhood.

The dice always sat on a little shelving unit that Uncle George had built, right inside Aunt Nen's backdoor, in the library. Yes, she had an actual library in her house, that Uncle George built out with cypress bookcases and a neat little nook for the phone.  Along the edges of all the shelves, in front of the books, were hundreds of tiny knick knacks and bricabracs they had collected over the years.  So, the dice sat there on a shelf by the back door, unnoticed by most, but there was a "special code" for us!  Whenever we went to visit Aunt Nen, we always checked to make sure the dice were set to rest on "7" or "11", and we always switched the numbers on our way out the door when we left.  That way, we knew if anybody else had been there and messed with her stuff! Kind of dumb, really, but to this day, they sit on my shelf at "7" or "11". Unless Celia has dusted... then I have to fix it! 

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