Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blanket progress

I started knitting a new blanket in January and have been taking pictures of its progress here and there.

Here it is in its early stages. Just a little baby blanket.

It's maybe a few weeks old here.

A closeup of the stitches. They're a little different on the other side, which doesn't bother me, as I like both patterns.

And here it is at the present moment. (It strangely reminds me of Cousin It, just hanging there like that.) I'm so close, but not quite done yet. I'm pretty sure that it will be ready just in time for the weather to start getting warmer.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Plants in jars

I've been suffering from a case of premature spring fever. I cannot wait for the weather to warm up so I can go for walks on my lunch break, go swimming, and partake in various other outdoor activities. Unfortunately for me, I think I've still got another month and a half before temperatures really start to rise. I have also developed a recent fixation on terrariums, for which I blame on my lust for summer.

Now, I'm not much of a plant person--in fact, I have none in my house whatsoever. But I get the impression that something like this would be fairly low maintenance, and I'd have a little bit of green to look at everyday.

I found these beautiful terrariums from Made By Mavis:

But I think I will make my own. Part of what I like about this idea is that you can use just about any type of glass vessel: mason jars, apothecary jars, fish bowls, and the like. They sell all of the above at craft stores like Michael's, but it would be fun to find something especially unique at a flea market or thrift store (that's another thing: I can't wait for the flea markets to open up again!)--perhaps something like this vintage mushroom shaped jar that Mudpuppy is offering up:

He also has these adorable ceramic mushrooms and owls that can be used to decorate your little ecosystem:

So I guess it's settled: I am off to buy some plants, dirt, and glass containers (among other things) this weekend (or maybe the next one--the cold has turned me into a bit of a shut-in). For those inclined to join me, online tutorials can be found here, here and here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Where to go next?

Dave had had the idea to document our travels around the country by buying a vintage map, mounting it on cork board, and sticking a pushpin in each city we've visited.

When I saw this map in the gift wrap section at Greenwich Letterpress I knew it was perfect for the project. Unfortunately, I had some trouble finding cork board in the right size (not to mention that it's a lot more expensive than I thought) so I bought rolled cork, which then needs to be mounted to something else, so I also bought a piece of foamcore. I adhered everything using a spray adhesive, figuring that would be the easiest way to get an even coat. By the next day, the map and cork had both curled away from their respective backings. The next step was to peel everything apart, reglue it with mod podge, and trim away the edges that had ripped. Since I'm not exactly the most precise with the xacto, I didn't make the cleanest, straightest cuts, but I think it more or less looks good--but what a headache!

The middle of the country is sorely lacking* in pushpins, so we have promptly planned a driving tour of the southwest for this summer.

*While Dave has been more or less everywhere after multiple tours of the country as a roadie/driver for various bands, we decided it only gets a pushpin if we went there together. Aww.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

House tour: living room, part 3

Today I'm focusing on one of the living room walls.

If you're wondering why we put chairs in front of the door, it's because in the year and a half we've lived in this house, I have not once actually opened it. The door we come in and out of is in the kitchen. That and we had nowhere else to put them.

We bought these movie theater seats from the Rialto Theatre in Ridgefield Park, NJ, when they were (sadly) going out of business. It was an interesting old theater that I frequented when I was staying with my mother, who lives within walking distance of the place. The seats were stained and overall not in the best condition so we figured "no problem, we'll just reupholster them"--which turned out to be much more difficult of an endeavor than I had thought. The seat backs were no problem--just a simple stapling job. But when we tore open the actual seat cushions, we discovered that real reupholstery involves hay (I had no idea that was what was inside chairs!), burlap, and some actual sewing. In the end they came out all right, but not a professional job by any means.

My favorite part of the chairs are the numbers on the sides.

The narrow wall section between the window and the door was looking a little boring to me so I bought some clear plastic light switch plates (much like this one) and printed out some Charley Harper illustrations to put inside them.

I bought this record cabinet at Room Service in Austin (embarrassingly, it was in better condition when I purchased it--the dings and scratches all occurred in the move). While it's too small to store all of my LPs, it's perfect for a few boxes of 45s.

While I don't speak French, I loved the cover of the book on the left so much that I bought it anyway. The one on the right is a journal made from an old book cover, and was purchased at the Renegade Craft Fair last year from Ex Libris Anonymous.

I've been buying a lot of old 60s paperbacks lately, many of them for the covers alone. As for the jack paperweight, I had been avidly seeking one of these out for awhile, but all of the ones I'd seen on eBay were going for more than I wanted to spend. Naturally, I was pretty happy to find one in a store in Maine for $6.

Dave bought me this guy for Christmas a few years ago. He is definitely the cutest flesh-eating virus you'll ever meet.

I made the zebra out of a pair of socks. You can find out how to make him in this book.

This puzzle was pretty difficult, since most of the pieces are just shades of gray or black. After discovering that it was more or less the exact size of the top of my record cabinet, we decided just to leave it on there and buy a piece of glass to put on top. I usually put a book over the words "Blow Job" when my mother comes by (and hope she never decides to pick it up).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reusable lunch bag, strike one

I've been meaning to come up with a crafty and reusable alternative to the plastic grocery bags I usually use to carry my lunch to work. I had been keeping this project from design*sponge in the back of my mind, in the event that I happened upon some gorgeous Mexican oilcloth in a store. Then the other day I came across this tutorial for fusing plastic bags together to create a durable material to use for sewing projects. Since, unlike oilcloth, I have tons of plastic bags at the ready (also unlike oilcloth, they're free), I decided to try it out and make a lunch bag.

I can't say I'm totally pleased with the final product, but not deterred from trying it again. For one thing, I need to fuse larger pieces together, as this bag is not quite big enough to transport tupperware containers (though just fine for a sandwich and can of seltzer).

More importantly though, the way the plastic wrinkles, coupled with the largely white background, make me think of diapers--which is not the look I was going for.

I had been deterred from using more colorful bags, as according to the tutorial, the ink will run. But if I layer it with clear plastic bags, then maybe it will be safe, and less diaper-like. On the plus side, I can say that the fused plastic feels sturdy. I will be coming back to this one again, hopefully with more positive results to report.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Making applesauce

I will be making these muffins later today (minus the dates), and one of the ingredients is applesauce. I have been making my own applesauce fairly often as of late, and figured I might as well do that for this recipe too (since it only calls for 1/2 a cup, that means plenty of leftovers for actual eating, which is a plus). It's actually pretty easy and quick to do.

Start with four peeled apples.

Slice them into eighths.

In a pot, combine 1 cup of orange juice (don't worry, you don't actually taste it in the end, it just adds to the tartness), one cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 1/8 tsp cloves. Add the apples, bring to boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes.

Once your time's up, remove from heat, take out the cinnamon stick, and, using a potato masher or fork, mash the apples.

It ends up looking something like this. You could eat it now, but I prefer to leave it in the fridge for a few hours to cool.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Frawgge Mfrg Co

Dave had asked for a jigsaw puzzle this past Christmas, which was a bit of a challenge, as I didn't really want to buy one that featured kitties in a basket or landscape scenes or whatever you usually find on the average jigsaw puzzle. After a lot of internet searching I found one that sports an Edward Gorey drawing.

There are so many great details in this picture, and most of them are really similar, which made it quite a challenging puzzle to complete.

We sat down one Sunday, expecting to finish it within the afternoon. A week later, we were finally putting the last pieces in place.

One of my favorite sections.

We left the puzzle on the kitchen table for another couple of weeks, as after all that I couldn't bear to take it apart just yet. But after doing some cleaning in the kitchen today, I decided it was time to put it away and reclaim the table for its actual function (not that we really eat there that often).

I was a little sad, but we can always put it back together again one day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I choo-choo-choose you!

For Valentine's Day this year Dave gave me a particularly inspired gift:

A giant mug filled with craft supplies. Since I can't take wrap-around photos (obviously), you probably can't tell that it says CRAFTER MUG. And on the bottom: "Crafter MugTM is a limited edition 2009 Valentines Day production. Davey Hyde, Ltd." It was drawn on with a special paint marker that can be used on ceramics, metal, glass, and so on. You just have to bake it in the oven after it's done drying. We tried this once before and the result was pretty good but the design I drew has been getting scraped off bit by bit after washing. Maybe you can't use ceramics with a glaze. But I digress.

(Note: I'm sort of regretting not waiting to clean up before taking the picture, as I've revealed that we are slobs.)

There's also a little tutorial on how to make a valentine, in case you weren't sure (hint: it involves a paper heart, scissors, ink, and stamps). Funny enough, neither of us gave the other something like this.

Inside the mug were some typewriter font rubber stamps, inkpads, xacto blades (papercutting, here I come!), mod podge, and foam brushes. All very useful things.

(Not pictured but also sticking out of the mug--sort of--was a reissue of the Beyond the Implode single. Sadly, my favorite song is not on it. But still a good gift!)

In hindsight I decided it wasn't quite apparent enough just how big the crafter mug is, so here it is next to a regular size mug. That would hold a lot of hot chocolate.

I went the more traditional Valentine's Day route of cards and treats: truffles from Jacques Torres (which is conveniently across the street from where I work), seltzer (Dave's favorite), and mulled cider spices.

This is the second year in a row that I made a card, and then happened to see one in a store that I couldn't resist--who could turn down squirrels in love? (For those interested, while I bought the card at Greenwich Letterpress, it can also be purchased online at the Enormous Champion etsy store.)

I've never actually made hot apple cider but I saw these mulled cider sachets on etsy, and thought that cuddling with (or maybe just while drinking) cider sounded like a nice thing to do on Valentine's Day. I really like the little pouch.

For the handmade card I experimented with sewing on paper. It came out kind of messy looking (hey, it was my first attempt), but then again I sort of like the drawn-by-a-little-kid aesthetic. I'd also like to practice more and eventually make something that looks a bit neater, but I thought this was a good start.

I love secret messages.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

House tour: living room, part 2

For the second installment of my living room tour I focused on the bookshelf. There's a lot going on here, as you can see:

(Don't mind the lighter fluid in the foreground--we're not pyromanics, Dave just uses it to clean the price tag adhesive off his record covers. If I ever get to the computer room, you will see that he has a pretty massive collection!)

I acquired quite a few of the items in the middle shelf while on vacation in San Francisco, probably because after returning I immediately moved in here, so all of the treasures I'd brought back were still on the brain. I saw an amazing Joseph Cornell exhibit at SF MoMA, which I'm pretty sure was the indirect inspiration for what I did with this shelf.

For Christmas my boss gave me three Japanese dishes, which I used to arrange some smaller items: typewriter keys, bottle caps, tiny plastic dinosaurs (you know, the usual). Here you see a sand dollar and piece of sea glass that I found at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. I picked up the piece of driftwood at Point Lobos State Reserve, a small but gorgeous stop on the drive through Big Sur. The vintage matchbook was found in my grandfather's garage about 13 years ago and I held onto it all that time until finding the perfect place for it. It came from a Chinese restaurant in Jersey City called The Jade, and advertises what I assume to be some kind of alcoholic beverage called the Jade Zombie.

I purchased the glass egg, amber, and gypsum rosette at Paxton Gate, a taxidermy and gardening supply store that features all kind of great natural curiosities (and it's right next door to the Pirate Supply Store!). Behind it is a Dia de los Muertos diorama that our friends gave to us a few Christmases ago.

The ceramic basket was a thrift store find in Salinas, CA. I picked up the small wooden Joseph Cornell puzzle at the SF MoMA bookstore (here's a picture of the actual assemblage, though flat images of his work really don't do them justice compared to seeing them in person). The Juliet of the Spirits flexidisc was also a thrift store find, but in New Paltz, NY, and the sock monkey dressed up for Halloween--well, I just couldn't resist him. I think he was on sale too (post-October 31st).

The mini-hi-fi was purchased at Polk-a-Dot Variety in SF (which, sadly, I think is no longer in business--it was such a great store!).

This is my favorite window in the bookshelf. The wooden letters were purchased at Re-Pop in Brooklyn, and the wooden bird came from Hable Construction in Manhattan. If I can correctly remember the story, I think the bird is carved from burnt roots collected in the New Mexican desert. A few more typewriter tins are on display here (see last week's tour for my favorite one), not to mention the typewriter that my great-aunt gave to me after she saw me eyeing it in her apartment one day (she's nice).

This shelf is also a great one. From left to right, we have my Bob's Big Boy coin bank, in homage to one of my favorite bands to come out of my one-time home of Austin, then there's Dave's growing collection of Edward Gorey books, housed in the adorable metal bookends (from Room Service in Austin), and finally, the handknit telephone I surprised Dave with one Christmas. Awhile back, after seeing The Science of Sleep, he mentioned to me how much he liked the stuffed telephone featured in one of the scenes, and hinted, jokingly perhaps, that I should make one for him. So I did--just when he was least expecting it!