Monday, October 25, 2010

Ex Libris

Well, I've finally married my wonderful Garm. Yup, he's stuck with me. And my wonderful Garm's wonderful parents gave us the best wedding present ever: an entire wall of bookshelves. "Entire wall" doesn't really do justice to the scope. The bookshelves literally stretch the width of the entire house. That's right. We've figured it up to about 166 linear feet of shelf space. And we've almost filled it up already .......

We began measuring months ago. There were charts and graphs and some more measuring as the piles of books in corners grew. The goal was to make the most use of the largest single wall in the house, so that we could combine both of our libraries into one place. After a while, the was a good deal of hoping along with the measuring.

Once home from our lovely honeymoon we settled in then took our happy, literate selves up to Ikea, home of all things for the home (some assembly required). We weren't sure how all of the bookshelves that we knew we needed were going to fit into the back of Garm's truck, but those clever Sweedes, they're so good at flat packing that everything fit with room to spare. Seriously, the next time I need to pack a suitcase, I'm finding a Sweedish person do help me! Here's what the truck looked like:

We got home and I had to go to work, leaving Garm to assemble 6 full sized Billy bookcases, one half bookcase, a DVD tower, and a TV stand. While I was walking dogs, he was busy in the garage, and this is the result:

It's amazing, how packages so small can be coerced into being such significant bookshelves. Each one is over 6 feet tall. Garm was so excited he even dragged the first three in and started arranging some of our books on them:

When I got home that night, I helped him carry in the others, and we began sorting the books onto them. SO MUCH FUN! I've had some of my books in storage for years and years, since I moved away from Newnan the first time, and they've stayed in storage in a closet at my parents' house while I was overseas with the Peace Corps, then they moved to the closets and under-beds at Garm's house. Finally, they're breathing air again!!

I had to go to work again the next day, but was able to help Garm get the electronics started. There wasn't too much I could help with this,
and I mostly just left him alone to untangle that, checking occasionally to make sure he didn't accidentally get strangled in the nonsense. He got it worked out, thankfully, and in time for the Auburn game, even. That evening he also secured the bookshelves to the wall and started putting the history and non-fiction out.

I came home to a lovely mess of books all over the house, and quickly set to work pulling out more boxes and fitting them in to where they belong. We have the books sorted by category -- fiction, anthologies, children's, literary criticism, general non-fiction, religion, mythology, poetry, history (by time period and then by author), biography, and political science. Poor Garm, he was exhausted but I was just so excited that I kept pulling boxes out from under beds and putting them into their respective areas. The history section was probably the most difficult, and I let Garm do all of those, though I did try to help. Getting the books into both chronological AND alphabetical order was such a chore ... I will never, ever shelve a book in that section: he can do it for me! I'll build a book drop first!

Exhausted, sometime in the middle of the night, we finally had to go to bed. The next morning, Sunday, I went back to Ikea with my BFF so she could browse the home of all things for the home (some assembly required) and I could pick up a couple more wall shelves. Garm and I decided that to give our wall o' books a truly built in feel, we would join the Bill bookcases over the TV with some matching wall shelves. We got 4 shelves on our original trip, enough to make 2 joining shelves, but we realized that our TV does not need to be mounted, like we originally thought we did. We also realized that the extra 5 feet of bookshelf was going to be crucial.

Especially since while I was at the bookstore, Garm found 2 more boxes of books under a bed I missed the night before in my excitement and exhaustion. These books, mostly history and non-fiction, required that we rethink where those sections ought to go. So, when I returned home from Ikea we mounted all 6 of the shelves and made 3 shelves above the TV, with the resulting effect of a single, custom unit. Garm claims he was 3/8" off on one of the shelves, but I defy you to find a flaw in these pictures!! Once we rearranged mythology, religion, and moved the yearbooks for the umpteenth time, the bookshelves are finally complete! Can you believe we managed to get our living room from this:

to this:

in just a few days? We've been looking forward to these ever since I announced to my new betrothed that I came with a dowery of a library as extensive as his own. One neat side effect were the duplicate books. Garm and I often had the exact same book, and we collected the doubles to turn in for credit at our local used book store. They'll only let us turn in one box at a time, so we have to make 6 trips to get them all gone. We've even been able to replace a few paperbacks for hardbacks, then turn the paperbacks in! Of course, if we keep lucking out and getting such good credit off these books, we may be needing more bookshelves sooner than we thought ....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Autumnal Candles

So the blog has been slacking a little. My bad. I'd like to blame the long hours at work in the horrible horrible heat, but mostly it's due to a slight writer's block and an epic laziness.

And of course so much of our time is taken up with wedding preparations. Mostly, those preparations are nothing to blog about, but this one is!

In an effort to keep costs lower, I decided to make my own centerpieces for the reception: gel candles. I'd had this idea in my head for a while, and last week Garm helped me to make that idea a reality. I'm so happy with the results that I want to do this again and again.

The overall theme of the wedding is fall, and the reception is at a restaurant that overlooks the Chestatee River. The candles I pictured in my head were basically frozen scenes from a river in fall: small river rocks on the bottom, fall colored leaves, berries, pine cones and acorns. Originally, I was thinking of just gluing those in place and filling the containers with water, then putting floating candles on top; however, when I did a bit of research on making gel candles I learned it wasn't too complicated. So I threw caution to the wind, covered the kitchen surfaces in cardboard, and bought the materials. More expensive than water and floaty-candles, but well worth it!

So, here's how it was all done!
Step one was to glue the wicks to the bottom of the bowls with a glue gun. I then added the rocks, and then glued the silk leaves and berries where I wanted them around the outside of the bowl. I didn't want them to get too close to the wick. I didn't bother gluing the rocks in place, figuring (correctly) that the gel would take care of that for me.

Step two was melting the candle gel. The first batch took a long while to melt because we were very cautious with how much heat we used. There were lots of warnings about the gel being flammable, so we started with the lowest setting and waited a while before turning it up, then up some more. We did finally figure out the optimum setting on the stove for melting the gel without exploding it. This was also the step where we got to add the scent. That's right! My candles smell like cranapple spice! The gel felt really funny on my fingers; I had to tear it out in bunches from the tub it came in, and I'm still finding little pieces of it in the kitchen.

Step three, as you might imagine, was actually pouring the gel. We learned a lot in this step. I learned that my precautionary step of heating the candle in a sink of hot water was unnecessary. I learned that an extra step of tying the wicks to a pencil resting across the top of the candle was necessary to prevent the waxy wick from melting and collapsing in the bottom of the candle. I also learned that the hot gel melts the hot glue, so I need to find a better way to affix the suspended objects away from the wick. And I learned that hotter gel makes for a more bubbly looking candle, while the cooler gel, when poured, makes for a clearer candle. Garm was wonderful in this step: holding the candles steady for me while I ladled hot gel into them and helping me get a uniform look. He's also very very good at tying the wicks onto the pencils so that they won't fall off again.

Step four, logically, was allowing the gel to cool and solidify again. I filled the sink with cool water and ice cubes to encourage this process. Above are two cooling candles, wicks still tied to pencils. Once the gel was cool, we wiped off the excess gel from where it had dripped and remelted it for the subsequent candles, cut the wicks, and stood back to admire our handiwork. They turned out exactly as I had imagined, which I think is pretty amazing. I had so much fun doing these that I want to do more! We even burned one to be sure they'll work, and they, in fact, do work as candles. Success!! Garm brought out his lightbox to get some nice shots; here are the best of those.

My Fall River Candles:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

British Bluegrass??

So there's this great new band out there. I found them on Dave FM, and got hooked listening to the one song they played. So of course I did what any new fan would do: I got the album and set up a new Pandora station.

According to Wikipedia, Mumford and Sons began playing together back in 2007 and released their first album, Sigh No More, last year. It crossed the pond this year and has frolicked (do the English frolick?) its way up the charts and into our radios. The single I fell in love with, Little Lion Man, has a catchy chorus that isn't inane (coughkatyperrycough)  like so much new music out there. Also, who is rocking a banjo nowadays? Not enough artists, that's for sure.

M&S are listed as Indie Rock or Folk Rock, but the combination of instruments is begging me to call it Bluegrass Rock. But they're more than just the instruments. The lyrics and harmonies are darker and more serious than you'll find over the traditional airwaves. Broken hearts, revenge, regret and the state of your soul are all themes in their music. And yet there's something hopeful in the songs as well: "Lead me to the truth and I will follow you with my whole life."

All in all, this is a great new sound, and I recommend that if you're sick of the same 20 songs on the radio, which all sound the same anyway, to give these guys a listen.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Site issues

We're going through some site-code updates/housecleaning at the moment. All will return to normal shortly.

I hope. 

UPDATE: Everything's working the way I want, other than the massive space in the first post on the page. I have no idea why it's like that, but I'm working on it. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Blood

Just to prove that this little blog o' mine is still ticking, I decided to make a post. Genie Junkie and I have neglected Garm Howling for quite awhile, but hopefully that will change in the future. Recently I thought about this minuscule corner of cyberspace and wondered if I should create some new content. Fortuitously, my fiancée Kat mentioned that she'd like to start her own blog. I pounced on the opportunity and (short story, long) now she's going to cross-post here and at her own place: A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That.

So we have some new blood and soon, Cthulhu-willing, some new content as well.