Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A scavenger in my own home

Over the weekend I visited my mother, who announced that she had some boxes she wanted me to go through. Now, she has boxes for me to go through almost every time I drop by--I'm not sure where they keep coming from, but there is a never-ending supply, and other than the occasional pot or pan there usually isn't much contained within that I want. Surprisingly though, I actually found some good stuff this time.

For instance, this View-Master that was undoubtedly enjoyed by my brother and me at one time or another (the reel it contained when I found it featured the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

A little while later, while rummaging through another box, I fortuitously came across this vintage set of View-Master reels from the Luray Caverns.

I love this packaging.

I wish I could somehow include the actual images featured within the reels (I tried scanning them but they didn't show up), but picture dramatically lit caverns, complete with stalagmites, stalactites...and people wearing fashionable 1950s-style suits and dresses (and in one case, a cape). Not exactly what I'd picture to be the ideal outfits for exploring caverns.

And to perfectly complete the theme, I later found this in a basket of more old family photos. My mother doesn't look too happy (funny, because she would grow up to drag her own children to just about every cavern-related tourist spot on the East Coast), but maybe her parents cheered her up by buying her that View-Master reel she was eyeing in the gift shop.

Among other things, I also snagged this sweet phone that I used to play with at my grandparents' house as a child (forgive the crappy photo). The cradle is broken due to an unfortunate accident when my brother borrowed it as a prop in a school play, but I think I should be able to find a way to fix it.

Either way it probably doesn't work (especially since the prongs on the plug don't look like any I've ever seen) but it will look awesome on some shelf somewhere.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day trip to Beacon

This past Saturday Dave and I took a drive out to Beacon, New York, about 30 miles west of us. There was a gallery talk scheduled on Robert Smithson at Dia Beacon, which prompted the trip, and the (finally) lovely weather promised a nice afternoon walking around town.

While the art contained within is a bit more interesting, the grounds outside are quite nice as well, and invite visitors to hang around a bit on days like this.

The oxidized metal used here reminds me of the colossal Richard Serra sculptures found inside the museum.

Dave admires the scenery.

I love the latticework sidewalks...

...especially where the grass grows out of them.

After we left the museum we enjoyed an amazing lunch at Poppy's Burgers and Fries--homemade veggie burgers and sweet potato chips. The yellow chairs were nice too.

After lunch we took a leisurely stroll down Main Street. It's an interesting mix of arty/hipster (most likely a result of Dia's moving in six years ago), yuppie, white trash, and ghetto, with gorgeous 19th-century brick buildings (some of them boarded up and crumbling).

The sandwich board sign outside of Open Space Beacon, a small gallery that tends to curate interesting shows. There's a particularly good exhibit going on right now.

About a year ago Open Space organized an event in which various artists created work to be installed in the windows of this former electric blanket factory (hence the name of the piece, Electric Windows).

As I've mentioned a few times already, in addition to galleries, cool shops (though, sadly, I noticed a few more empty storefronts since my last visit), and great restaurants, the town features many boarded up buildings and unused railroad tracks, overgrown trees, etc.

I find this aesthetic quite appealing. There's something wondrous about it, this sense of nature clashing with industry (something Robert Smithson was interested in, as I learned that afternoon).

I'd love to live in a town like Beacon--there's a lot of history there, and so many little streets and corners to explore. It'd also be nice to be able to walk up the street to get a good cup of coffee.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

House tour: bedroom

For this week's house tour, we move into the bedroom.

I'm not very good at making beds, hence the wrinkliness. I've always liked the Warhol gun print so I bought a reproduction poster of it to frame.

We bought the bench at an antique store not far from our house and reupholstered the cushions (they were previously a crazy, hideous plaid--think yellow, red, orange, and blue itchy-looking fabric). It was our first attempt at something like that, and it came out pretty well, though certainly not perfect if you look closely. The best part about the bench is that the cushion comes off for storage underneath.

We're suckers for stuffed animals, so we have a lot of them. We have a particular penchant for aquatic creatures, so we have the sting ray, the lobster, three penguins, and a few others not pictured, as well as the mayor from Nightmare Before Christmas (his head turns around to reveal two different faces), an Edward Gorey cat, an Ugly Doll, and a sock monkey (handmade by some lady who sold him on eBay). Above them are the letterpress calendar and tray, which have been previously discussed here.

The squiggle red rug comes from Target. I couldn't resist including my slippers in there too.

Here we have our fish, the Gill family, named after the fish in this movie. Above them is a photograph of the crowd at a punk show in Boston from the early 80s, given to Dave by a local photographer years ago, who I recently discovered sells her photos on etsy. And all the way to the right is our crappy CD stand, upon which is my Drinky Crow figurine and two religious candles purchased at a grocery store in Austin, one of which looks kind of like a Raymond Pettibon drawing and reads "Law stay away."

A closer look at the Gills and the rock that they refuse to swim through, even though I think it would be pretty fun for them. Aren't they cute?

I stuck these vintage reproduction shadow puppet thingies (I don't know what to call them, really) above the closet door.

A wider view.

There are more hanging above the other closet door too (sorry for the series of similar photos, I couldn't get one that showed the whole wall).

These two pieces of furniture are on the list to replace, particularly the bookcase. I recently reorganized the books by color, which I'd seen done a few times but always thought was a little silly. I decided to give it a try though, and separated the brightly colored sections with groups of white or neutral colors, which I think successfully combated the rainbow effect. Above it is a silkscreened poster from when the Japanese band DSB played a few shows on the East Coast (which is when Dave and I started dating...aww!). Dave actually took the photo used to silkscreen the poster. Also hanging are some Gwen Frostic cards that I arranged inside a large frame, and some postcards of Cindy Sherman and William Eggleston photos that I like.

A closeup of some books. My mom bought the cat for me in Italy. Not sure what the pottery-looking thing is from.

And lastly, two more of those religious candles, and the alarm clock Dave bought for me from Toy Joy. I don't use it as an alarm clock because it's not really loud enough to wake me up and it eats up batteries really quickly, but it looks cool, and that's what counts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The blanket is done!

After several months, the blanket is finally finished. And it's still kind of cold out, so it will be actually be used once or twice this season. Now I can finally move onto a new knitting project. (Stay tuned for that.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pictures of breakfast

My breakfast this morning:

I got the recipe for these pumpkin muffins from Smitten Kitchen. The cinnamon and sugar on top is a nice touch. Somehow a muffin doesn't seem complete with chocolate chips though. But maybe that's just me.

Still delicious though, even without the chips. Dave suggests walnuts. Or maybe pecans. Worth trying again either way.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Paper boats

I work in publishing, and one of the imprints I handle puts out the occasional craft book--which results in occasional crafting on the job. The other day was one such occasion. I don't want to divulge too much, but it involved making a paper boat and bunting. I then remembered about the paper boat garland I had posted about the other week, which is kind of a combination of the two things. I had also been noticing how the area above my living room window was kind of bare.

These various thoughts all came together in the above paper boat garland.

I cut out some pages from old issues of Readymade (their paper is more of a matte finish, as opposed to glossy, which I like).

It made for a nice variety of color and images. I liked how I was never really sure of what it was going to look like when I started folding.

The one on the end actually looks like it has port holes, which I hadn't even thought of when I cut out the picture of a laundromat-turned-screen printing shop in L.A.

If you too want to make your own paper boats, a handy video tutorial is available here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Driveway terrariums

Now that it's already spring I decided I had to finally realize my terrarium goals, so I headed out to a local gardening supply store. They were very nice, but told me they didn't really have the right kind of plants to put in a terrarium. I was a little discouraged until I got back home and took a closer look at my driveway, noticing all the moss growing around the edges. Apparently I had everything I needed to make a terrarium all along (although it was probably a little too cold to dig it all up until now, so I still have an excuse). I selected a few pebbles from the driveway, opened up a packet of activated charcoal (which I already had among my fish tank supplies), scooped up some dirt and a layer of moss and...

I'd been saving these mason jars just for the occasion. In hindsight I think I might like to spraypaint the lids (sorry Mrs. Renfro). I added a couple of little pine cones to the one on the right, really just because they're cute.

I'm still debating as to whether I want to buy some cute little woodland creatures to decorate it, or just leave it simple. I'm actually leaning toward the latter.

Here they are in my windowsill (supposedly it's okay to give moss lots of light if they're indoors--time will tell me if that's true).

Now I want to make more. It's so easy to do it that I'm feeling a little addiction coming on. Maybe I'll wait and see how these hold up. If they work out well I might try to step it up a little bit next time with some more unique glass containers, a wider variety of plants, etc.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Mayans really knew how to bake

It started with the oatmeal cookies. Then I needed to use up an egg so I searched for more recipes. In the process I found even more that caught my eye, pulling me into a vicious cycle of baking and fattening up myself and those around me. (It was, however, nice to be able to for once give some homemade treats to Jess of Pictures of Cake, who every other Thursday brings in cake to our shared place of work.)

But you can't blame me for being unable to resist the allure of the Mayan chocolate cookie. The recipe calls for an insane amount of chocolate, as well as some cayenne pepper, which is what I think most intrigued me (although 1/8 tsp is not enough, despite what they'd have you believe).

Look into their eyes (sugar?) as they put you under their spell... (I have been proofreading too much mass market plot copy at work.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

House tour: living room, part 5

The concluding living room post.

Our couch is the obligatory Ikea Klippan sofa (i.e. the cheapest couch you can buy). I had been using it without a slipcover, but since moving into this house that was no longer an option (as far as I was concerned) since the carpeting is the exact same color as the couch. So last year I tried sprucing it up with a homemade slipcover (why are the ready-made ones either really boring colors or ridiculously ugly patterns?), and while that helped a bit, I think it's high time I bought a new couch.

I made the giant pillows (well, covered them with fabric, that is). I was afraid they might clash with the sofa but I think the clashing patterns work well. The blanket was knitted by me, but it's falling apart (one of these days I will sew it all back together--right after I make the terarriums and all of the other projects I have lined up!).

Dave made the coffee table with the help of his dad and brother (not to mention his dad's many tools). We got the instructions from Todd Oldham's Handmade Modern. The project is actually supposed to be a bench, with a cushion added to the top, but I can't see sitting on it (it's not the sturdiest, although fine for coffee table purposes). The only (minor) problem is that because it's meant to have a cushion on top of it, the screws are showing. Othwise it's the ideal coffee table as far as I'm concerned--the little cubbyholes are perfect for stashing remote controls, speakers for the laptop, and a few awesome books.

Above the couch is a reproduction Blow Up movie poster, which I was inspired to buy after seeing an original hanging in the bathroom of Home Slice in Austin. (I'll admit that I stood there a few minutes contemplating how I might get that thing out of there without the proprietors noticing.) Dave took the black and white photos hanging around it.

I've had the table lamp for years (and it's slowly getting banged around a little more with every move). Pictured also are several felted balls of yarn that I made with the intention of turning into Christmas ornaments, but I thought they looked so cute grouped together on this tiny plate that I left them like that.

Another shot of the photographs, as well as a Guided by Voices poster.

These old Austin punk fliers are hanging on the opposite wall of the couch above our TV, stereo, and turntable. I didn't bother to photograph that part though, because a bunch of electronic equipment piled on top of a fiberboard TV stand isn't all that aesthetically pleasing. (There are also lots of records and boxes of records stacked in front of it at the moment.) In addition to a new couch, a goal of mine for summer thrifting/flea market trips is to find some kind of midcentury sideboard/credenza type thing to go here instead.