nerd lover’s book club: the hot zone

This is the story of my time learning about viruses:
Late 1990’s… my brother becomes obsessed with virus books and reads portions out loud in which people bleed from orifices and tongues fall out. I cry and tell mom.
2006-2007… 3 very misguided semesters as a biology major brought me to an extra credit seminar taught by a virus expert from Mayo, in which we discussed the very real possibility of an outbreak that no one would be able to stop or contain. We eat snacks and punch and return to life as usual.
2011… caught a rerun of Outbreak on cable, loved it.
July of 2012… watched Contagion. hooked on viruses.

Which leads me to my latest book recommendation…

It’s an oldie but its new to me. The Hot Zone follows the true story of filoviruses, particularly different strains of the Ebola Virus. It is terrifying and awesome all at once.

So. If you’re feeling a little nerdy, and if you’re feeling like you’d enjoy a scare, read The Hot Zone. THEN read this latest article about an outbreak in Uganda. Then look up all the other outbreaks since the book was published in 1994 and cry yourself to sleep (but in a good way, I swear).

p.s. I got my copy at Goodwill for 65 cents.

p.p.s. Stay tuned for my next tutorial… coming at you tomorrow. (I have to give the present away first, obviously!)

Jersey Cotton Necklace

Well I am having a fabulous weekend with some of my craftiest friends! B Head and Egan are here and in between our bouts of “hoarders” marathons (which also brought on a few cleaning binges for me) we decided to get a little crafty!
After creating a few foam coozies… (which were def not blog-worthy) we moved on to greater things. B Head showed me an amazing necklace she made out of an old t-shirt. Because it’s made of jersey cotton, it is remarkably light-weight for large necklace. The best part is, of course, if you have an old t-shirt to re-purpose, the cost is FREE!

But mom! I just want to help!

Dislaimer: Tucker reallywanted to be our little “helper” for this project and pretty much attempted to chew everything we were working on, so he’ll be making quite a few guest appearances because we could not get him OUT OF THE WAY!

Ok back to the craft! First, find an old t-shirt. I used a plain one but you could try a patterned one as well. Lay the tee out on the floor. Cut off the hemmed edge on the bottom. Then, begin cutting 1-inch strips straight across. Do not cut the side seams– you’ll want to end up with loops of fabric.

Taking the loops in both hands, stretch out the strips of fabric, like so. Place the strips around your neck and arrange them how you’d like them to be. You can keep some longer and some shorter for variety or keep them the same length. Once you’ve got it figured out, wrap your fist around all of the pieces and take it off of your head to hold it in place. Using another strip of fabric, wrap it around the strips and tie it to secure. Then you’re done!

Here is B Head’s… in turquoise… which is awesome.
This project takes about 10 minutes and makes an eye-catching accessory. Save it for a rainy day or whip one up on your lunch break! Happy Crafting!

the not-so-dainty jewelry holder

If you are anything like me, you like your jewelry over-sized. I have quite the jewelry collection these days, and sadly, no where to hang them up where they are free from tangles and easily displayed for my perusal. What I needed was a jewelry holder as big and as bold as my favorite Anthro necklaces. Voila!

After dreaming up a number of different ideas for a jewelry holder that would be both stylish and capable of holding at least 10 lbs, I went to the thrift store for a scouting trip.
 At the store, I found this used picture. The frame measures just under 3’x3′, so I thought it could be big enough to handle my project. I bought the picture for $5 and brought it to the hardware store. The frame was a little dinged up, and I would have considered refinishing, but once I discovered it was actually particle board, painting became the necessary step.

At the hardware store, I found these molding strips. You could just use a thin plywood, but the molding had a nice beveled edge. I measured the inside of the frame, and cut the strips accordingly. (Did you know they have stations with saws where you can cut the wood yourself in the store! Awesome!)

I picked my color scheme to match my room. Since the piece is so big, I figured it could double as wall art (which my bedroom desperately needs… more on that later. I found a patterned wrapping paper I really enjoyed at a local shop called the Paper Merchant that sells specialty papers, then took the paper to Joanns for a perfect color match in an acrylic paint. I went with a matte finish, but you could go for gloss if you wanted to!

Once the frame and molding strips were painted blue, I measured and cut my wrapping paper to fit inside the frame. I also decided what heights to put the molding strips at and marked the spots on the picture with a pencil. I decided (after some epic failing) to cut the paper into 3 pieces and put each in separately. There was some slight gaping between the existing picture and the frame under which I was able to slide the wrapping paper for a more secure fit and total coverage.

I decided to use an acid-free double stick tape (after staring at the adhesive aisle for about 20 minutes). Because wrapping paper is so thin, I knew that any sort of glue would result in wrinkles in the paper. Placing some tape on the picture, I put the wrapping on in strips, tucking the edges under the frame. I used the pencil markers to make sure the seams in the paper were hidden under the molding.

After deciding how far apart to space the hooks for the jewelry, I marked every 3″ on the strips, staggering the middle strip by 1.5″. I made holes over the marks with a nail. If you try to screw the hooks straight in, you risk splitting the wood *no good.


The hooks I found at the hardware store were simple 5/8″ hooks, which was appropriate for the width of the wood. I screwed each one into the holes in the wood. (Please note: this is much easier to do with pliers, which we did not have and ended up with red, aching fingers.)

Once all of the hooks were good to go, I glued the strips to the edges of the frame with liquid nails. You’ll definitely want to use a similar product for this step to avoid the strips crashing down and breaking your project. Let the project sit and dry for at least an hour, and definitely over night before hanging anything from it. Once everything has set, mount it on your wall and fill it with your loveliest jewelry!

To make this project at home, you’ll need:
Old picture frame
Strips of plywood/molding cut to fit just inside the frame
Hooks
Paper for the background
Acrylic paint
Double stick tape
Liquid nails
Nail/Hammer
Pliers

You could try making this with a different frame shapes and color schemes. You could also opt to paint the background, rather than use patterned paper. Make sure to send a picture my way if you make your own!

Happy Crafting!