Thursday, April 21, 2016

Project Done!


I finally finished my clogs.

Remember the obsession of 2014?
I still have concerns about the strength of the leather but I wore them yesterday anyway and they seem just fine! I only wore them to work and back (riding my bicycle most of the way), so they still need a good walking road test. Then we'll know for sure. Note to self: keep flip flops close by in case there is a massive failure.

They fit great and are snug and don't fall off. I'm going to count that as success.

There was one big oops. The very last nail I put in did this:
 

I tried to pull the nail but it is in there so tight with that leather it's not budging. I am scared to force it too much because the wood might split. I put some insoles in and I can't feel it at all. I guess that proves it once an for all - I am not a princess.  

Get it? Princess and the Pea reference?  :)

PS: in the linked post I report on Mr. El's cancer scare. He is doing just fine and will turn 80 next year. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Huh. Crisis averted - apparently

It looks like things are back to normal.

 Ten minutes later. I'm hoping that I just checked things at the wrong time.
Nevermind - carry on.
Still doesn't change the fact that there is no place to email blogger directly.
Humph.

I don't know what's wrong with my blog!

Big frowny face!
This is NOT what it should look like. There should be roses on the top and no overlapping text. I was looking at other options but I'm pretty sure I didn't save anything. Not sure why this happened. And of course - there is no possible way to talk to anyone at blogger and say - what in the heck did I do wrong!? Please, pretty please, help me restore what I had before!

sigh. wish me luck in figuring it out.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


I have new tools.
After my last post, I couldn't get the diy crochet hook idea out of my head. One of the suggestions was to use Sculpy, an oven bake clay,  to make handles. On Thursday after work, I headed to my favorite art store and picked up five colors: red, blue, chartreusse, violet/magenta, and "translucent." We talked about this at work and I can't remember who suggested it, but making your own awls came up. I don't have a lot of crochet hooks, but I do have tons of needles. Happy crafting day for me!

I got a little carried away. Who needs five awls?
I've had Sculpy and Fimo all my life but it has be a very long time since I've made anything with it.  It gets so soft that it becomes a little difficult to work with. I struggled a bit with the flowers but in the end I think they came out just fine. I tried doing some weaving things but the clay didn't hold - it was too soft.


I got to use my crochet hook all weekend. And I do like it very much!

Last weekend I reported on the above. I finally got the suction cup hooks up here and hung it in the window.
 
I had another project in the works but wasn't feeling very excited about it. This goose is just too boring.
Poking around online let me find this much more interesting composition.  
 


I like this one a lot but I am using thinner thread. It is not holding up so well when I hang it in the window.

I'm not quitting though, I've done too much. Besides, if I use the larger thread I think the curtains will be way too big.

In another weather update, boy did we have some strange weather this weekend. It snowed for about 5 hours yesterday! It didn't stick but there were all of these huge snowflakes floating down all afternoon. It was really prettty. Last week with all the wind, the birds lost. A pair of Robins was building a nest in my Newport Pine, with the power line running right through it! 

 This does not seem like a wise architectural choice.
I wasn't able to do much yard surveying until about Wednesday. The entire nest had blown down and was in the middle of the grass.  

Also in the middle of the grass was this tiny egg. Obviously not a Robin's egg as it is not the tell-tale shade of Robin's Egg Blue, but rather it is a Mourning Dove egg. This brings the total number of known nests in the Newport Pine this year to three. My tenants reported that the cardinals are back and are (or maybe were) building a nest in the same place as last year. I understand the choice to build the nests in this tree. It provides plenty of cover for little birdies to hide. But unfortunately when it is so windy it's rather violent.

I won't leave you with a sad story - I'll leave you with my favorite actual news story of the week: Global Colored Pencil Shortage I'm not kidding. What a wonderful thing. I brought it up to the cashier at the art store and she just scoffed and said, "I coulda told you that - we can't keep them on the shelves and then can't get them when we order them."
Hm, first world problems...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Weather Update

Never mind spring, it's allergy season. 

Oye vey! Friday it was gorgeous and very warm - like 80F almost. Saturday was not so nice and then the wind picked up. And starting Saturday at 11pm - the weather gods must have gotten into quite a ruckus. First there was a good 20 minutes of marble sized hail beating on my bedroom windows, then the wind, then rain, then some more hail, and the wind didn't really stop until Sunday around 3pm. And when I say wind, I mean gale force. The windows were straining. On Saturday I didn't realize that I had taken all of the Benadryl in the house and so while I was up anyway through the hail storm, my allergies decided it was the perfect time to kick in. I discovered that being vertical was a better situation - everything drained - but I was also so tired. I finally rigged enough pillows in the bed to keep me vertical but I could sleep. I got about three hours. And of course with that much sleep it is so difficult to drag yourself out of the house to get to the drugstore on Sunday morning to get the big package of Benadryl. 
Needless to say the weekend had to be spent in mindless activities.

A little bit of gardening. 
I'm still cleaning up the old weeds and debris a little at a time. The dandelions have started and so I've always got a few of those to yank out.  We went to Green's Grow nursery on Friday and I bought seeds, purple pansies, compost, manure, and seed starting mix. I also bought another bag of Bulb Tone from Espoma. It's kinda expensive - but I bought a bag last year and spread it around liberally. My tulips and daffodils have never looked better. The tulips especially. I have more blooms and some have blooms for the first time. I'm a believer! 
I started a lot of seeds. 
 
I have standard basil, globe basil, marigolds, sunflowers, nasturtiums, zinnias, johnny jump ups and kale. I hope I didn't start things too late. Mid-May is time to plant more things such as tomatoes. Six weeks is plenty of time to get those seedlings going.  

On Sunday when I suffered the most serious allergy-mush-for-brains, I sat on the couch all day and did some more fillet crocheting. Just in case you are wondering, this fillet crocheting is not difficult. It is basically two stitches, chain stitch and double crochet. Then there is a grid to follow. Really, a no brainer.  While counting the minutes between Benadryl doses, I crocheted the heart. It should be a repeat so that there is an entire row of hearts. I like it but it's not as tall as I want it, so I'm on the second design... stay tuned for what it will be!
 
 Fillet crochet is usually done with very very thin thread. And an even smaller crochet hook. After the heart, my elbow was starting to hurt and I thought I could benefit from an ergonomic crochet hook handle. I priced a few, and while the prices were reasonable, I already have plenty of crochet hooks, I don't need more (not to mention that I also wanted it "right. now.") But I kept searching online and somehow I stumbled onto: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Easy-Comfort-Crochet-Hooks/
What? You can make comfortable crochet hooks yourself!? Unbelievable. 
 Well, I didn't have any of the gooshy squooshy things and I was not about to crawl out of warm comfy pajamas to go to AC Moore. I had a little think about what I might have in all of my crafty stash that could work similarly. And it came to me:

Craft foam and Hello Kitty duct tape! Done.  
In all seriousness - I can't believe the different this made. Just having a larger grip on the crochet handle helped so much!
Later, I did crawl out of pj's to go to AC Moore to purchase more thread, but that also seemed worth the effort.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Omi's Cabinet

So - this is a view of my kitchen rarely seen. The fridge is on the left. 
I inherited this cabinet from my grandmother, my Omi. There were twins, this one and another, although I think the other had two doors and no drawers. My sister has the twin. The top half should have sliding glass panels, which I believe I still have, but which are sort of a nuisance in a kitchen.
Somewhere in the move from Germany - to Southern California  - and then to Philadelphia, some things got lost. Shelves, primarily. 
Even in my recollection of this cabinet being in my "mother's room" (ie. the one we three slept in while visiting our grandparents) it had two more shelves than I posses now.
 The above mess has existed for almost 8 years, since I moved everything in. And I am tired of it. What a waste of space!
Part of my impetus to go to the West Philly Tool Library last weekend for the workshop was also to pick up a table saw in order to replace the shelves in Omi's cabinet.
Home Depot provided the sanded 2'x4'. And after cutting it to size (with the saw I checked out from the Tool Library), I decided to forgo to the traditional polyurethaning. Since I have so much decorated paper - I decided to simply cover the boards with decorative paper. The pink/purple paper I purchased at Artist & Craftsman, while the green is paste paper I made myself.
 Yay for organization!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Weekend

Happy Easter everyone! 
Sadly it was a very gloomy Easter Sunday here in Philadelphia. But, look there is a Johnny-Jump-Up in my garden! Thank you birds! (most likely). I don't think I've ever spread these seeds. If I did, they are far too old to bloom this year.  This little guy is more than welcome and I hope he spreads all over the place. 

Yesterday I took a Wooden Window Restoration Workshop at the West Philly Tool Library. I can not tell you how fortunate I feel to have this organization in my neighborhood. As some of you long time readers will remember, back in ought eleven, I started to strip the bay window on the first floor. Details can be found here: first post about stripping the windows.
Suffice to say there came a point where I was stuck. Like, really stuck.
 
 I'd been stripping all of the stuff, only to realize I also had to strip the wood of the sashes.  - Well how exactly do you do that!!!???
It didn't make sense to do it in situ because I couldn't get all of it anyway. So over the next 5 years, I would strip a little, think - I should take this apart - but what if I ruin it?-  and then give up.  Because deep down, I knew I had to take the entire window situation apart but I didn't know how. Not to mention that I figured it would be a ton of work.
Well, I was right on all accounts.
The first thing the instructor said was, Wooden windows were built to be fixed. Ha! Fantastic! Tell me how!
Within two hours, he had! 
I know how to strip the paint efficiently (with a heat gun).
I know how to cut glass. 
I know how to glaze the windows. 
I know how to use the putty and putty knife. 
And most importantly, I know what these things are for!
 Those are glazier's points. 
For some reason those fly around in my tool box. And I've had no idea why or what they are for (or even where they came from). Those things are pushed into the wood of the frame to keep the glass in place after the first layer of putty as been applied.
And finally, I understand how the weight works for the window. I'm supposed to be careful about the "coil" when I remove the sash.  
Otherwise, I'm supposed to just nail the chain in. It should be a surprise when I finally remove the actual sashes.  
So. 
The windows on the first floor are mostly original. The second and third floors have all been replaced. And now thanks to this workshop, after six years of stalling, I know how to proceed.
 I was hoping to show you some progress on my own project after taking this workshop, but alas, my morning bike ride proved what my 2am allergy fit already suspected, every single tree in Philadelphia that can bloom, has bloomed. I have allergy mush-for-brains. 
I spent the afternoon in the garden cleaning, which doesn't require too many brains. When fall comes, we pretty much abandon our gardens and allow nature to take its course. Here in the spring, we realize we heed to hop-to and clean things up before that's not exactly possible. Today I pulled some unproductive forsythias and generally raked debris from the winter. Yesterday I trimmed the front hedge. This coming week I have resolved I need to do a lot more general cleaning and some seed planting. 
Since most of this post is rather boring and non-picturesque, I'll leave you with Swee'pea's highlight of the week:
His new box du jour. He was thrilled mommy ordered something big enough for him to nestle in.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Easy as 1, 2, 3

Another DIY Christmas gift has been fulfilled...

Part 1:
Co-worker Erin gave us a wonderful gift for Christmas. Large scans of the covering paper of Violet Oakley's sketchbooks.



This last pattern comes from this sketch book:

 Where the actual sketchbook comes from, we have no idea. Ms. Oakley purchased sketchbooks worldwide.
Just to be sure you appreciate Ms. Oakley's talent, images from this particular sketch book:


Just who is Violet Oakley? Her wikipedia page can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violet_Oakley although it does not do her justice. Ms. Oakley was the first woman to receive public mural commission in the US - ca. 1911.  The murals still exist on the Pennsylvania State House walls. But she accomplished many other projects as well, more than I can enumerate in this post. My place of employment cares for more than 100 of her sketch books. Her paintings can be found in prominent institutions such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as PAFA (Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art, where she both studied and taught - take your pick of articles in the link). But sadly, she has has been forgotten as one of the great American Artists. Even though she deserves a seat next to artists such as Mary Cassatt, who also had Philadelphia connections.
My place of employment hired Erin to rehouse the collection and perform minor conservation treatments as needed. Erin did an admirable job and now all of Ms. Oakley's sketchbooks as well as other drawings and her artists books are available for research.

Part 2:
Last Spring I had an "intern". I say "intern" because she didn't fulfill the hours needed to fulfill an internship - but not for lack of trying. It was unpaid and she had a concurrent paid position and being a reasonable person I absolutely understand that when push comes to shove, a student has to go with the paid position! In the end the karma bank paid me a dividend. The intern told me of something she was doing in the paid position I'd never heard of...printing patterns with inkjet directly onto book cloth! I. could. not. believe. it. How simple!
Of course - I had to try it.

Part 3: how the first two come together. 
I used Erin's wonderful gift to print a piece of book cloth.

 
The perfect project for the cloth took a while to materialize. Then, I had to teach a specific binding to interns and this was the perfect covering material. They liked it as well so I printed more at work on the brown cloth. 
We love the spines. 
 Anybody need a writing journal?