Monday, November 14, 2011

Craft Fair Display

Last year being my first doing fairs, I didn't put much thought into my display.  I grabbed some cubes at my local recyclery to hang scarves off of and placed a bunch of plate display holders on my table to show my purses.  That didn't turn out so well.  The cubes basically blocked my line of vision to customers.  I had a crook in my neck from trying to peer around the dang thing.  The plate displays tipped over so many times so as to be useless.

This year I was determined to get it right.  I did some research to see other craft displays.  Etsy's blog had some decent general information about varying height etc. Unfortunately, I sell felted items which, while not heavy, are bulky so the table top cutesy vintage thingys which may be fine for earrings were never going to work for me.  I pored over the flickr show me your booth group and it came to me.

I decided upon a clothes line between two hat racks.  I didn't have hat racks so no problem I figured I'd build them out of 2 posts and a number of 1/2 inch dowels.  I basically just used a 1/2 inch paddle bit to drill holes for the dowels.  The nice thing is the dowels come out so I don't have to transport these as monster sculptures.  If I did this again, I'd only drill the holes perpendicular as getting the angles the same on the others was a pain.

Once I had the coat rack part set, I had to figure out how to secure them sufficiently to support a clothesline.  I was a bit stumped and wandered around Ace Hardware looking for a way to clamp the pole to my table. Let me tell you some of those clamps are very expensive.  I finally decided to use 2 christmas tree stands, which I filled with rocks.  For extra support I used bungee cords to secure the poles to the table.

Et voila.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beautiful Furniture

I have always wanted to make furniture.  I’m especially taken by furniture that takes it to the next level turning everyday useful items into works of art.  It’s what I try to do with my fiber creations.  As I have little to no woodworking ability I am forced to admire rather than create.

Here’s a secret you may not know.  Etsy (yes Etsy) is not just a place to find hipster t-shirts and fabulous earrings but a home to some absolutely fantastic furniture.  I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

Check out this amazing rocking bed by Joe Manus of ShinerInternational.  If babies get rocked to sleep in cradles why not an adult version.

 This highback chair from Mateo Panzica of Lazarus Handplane screams steampunk to me. Although containing all kinds of industrial elements it is softened by the padded leather back.


This is an amazingly clever and green idea by Ruffhouse Arts.  These couches are made from old bathtubs.

This solid cherry credenza by Object Society reminds me of televisions from the 50's.

I am entranced by the lines on this endtable by Reed Handsuld.  It's kind of minimalist yet swirly all at the same time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Camping Trip Cut Short

We are newly returned from camping.  We decided to go up to Union Valley Reservoir in Eldorado National Forest.  We brought along our friend Joy and our black and tan coonhound Greta.

We camped at a lovely site right across from the lake with views of snow covered peaks.  We settled in and feasted on a camp meal of franks and beans.  Greta proved her camping prowess.  Although technically on a leash she basically ran free and stayed in our campsite.

The next morning we were all about the lake.  Mr. took off to fish and Joy, Greta and I warmed ourselves in the sun so we could endure the cold lake.  Greta finally understood that she could swim and took to it with gusto.  As the afternoon arrived unfortunately so did the clouds.  I suggested a drive up to Loon Lake as we heard it was pretty.  When we arrived after the 45 minute drive, we discovered the $7 entrance fee.  I didn't want to pay, but I was outvoted.  We stopped at a picnic area to get our bearings.  After sitting at the picnic table I decided I needed another layer.  While trying to modestly regarb Mr and Joy approached the car.

Greta had been bit by a rattlesnake lurking under the picnic table we were sitting at. Being fans of Venom ER we had some idea of the implications.  We gently and calmly hustled Greta into the car.  There were a ton of kids playing about so David ran over to warn folks.

Well apparently these folks knew all about rattlesnakes.  This guy went over and pinned the rattlesnake with an oar.  He picked it up and held it for another guy to cut the head off.  They handed the dead snake to us and offered us their snakebite kit.  We declined the kit as we have heard they are ineffective.

Then we were off like the proverbial bat outa hell.  The nearest thing that could be called a town was Pollock Pines and that was over an hour away.  Despite spotty cell reception we managed to locate a vet and inform them we were on the way.  All the way down the mountain, Greta's face began to swell and swell.  She started to resemble an uneven Rottweiller.  She never uttered a peep the whole drive (although I did with Mr.'s Mario Andretti maneovers) and remained upright and alert.

At the vet we were greeted with this display.  I'm thinking "I know I know".  The vet was kind but sort of circumspect and I was in full panic mode by now.  Eventually it became clear that "protocol" dictated $600 worth of antivenom, but the vet having experience in these matters felt he could treat Greta without it since she was still standing after an hour.

We pulled out our "dead" rattlesnake for ID and darned if the dang headless thing didn't move.

We opted for the non-venom treatment and after 2 hours and much medicine she was released.

She was dopey as hell and I think she might have been hallucinating.  She was looking at me like I had 2 heads and would not lie down even though she was wobbling like crazy.  She seemed utterly spooked and had her tail firmly tucked against her tummy.  We decided to let her recover at home so we re-packed the car full of stuff that Joy and I had tossed in willy nilly while David had waited at the vet and headed home.

I am happy to say she has made a full recovery.  I'm not so sure I have.  24 hours after the bite, we took out the snake to inspect,  and darned if it didn't wiggle it's headless body.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gardening! It's a lot of work

We have been going garden crazy lately.  We've been in our house a year and have slowly been working on the garden.  Sometimes it seems like we have gotten nothing done but after taking these photos I realize we've done a lot.  So I'll take you on a garden tour.  Above is a planter David built for me in front.  The front has the best sun but is cemented so David built this temporary planter until we can get something more permanent done.  We have basil, parsley and chives in this one.  Next to it are out tomatoes.

Also in the front we had to cut down this rubber tree.  It was poorly pruned and we discovered this puppy grows like 5 feet a year so this was our last chance to get rid of it before it got too big.   I bought some stuff at Home Despot to get rid of the stump.  When I got home and read the directions it said to drill holes insert toxic gunk wait 4 weeks and set the tree on fire.  Whhaaaaa  um not so much in dry N. Cal right next to our fence.  I looked online and discovered that you can drill holes and insert epsom salt to make sure it doesn't come back.  David is still after me to bring back toxic stump stuff.  I told him I don't have the receipt.  He said he doesn't care he doesn't want the money he just wants Home Despot to be responsible for the disposal of toxic goo.

 I got this cool planter from my mother in law.  It sort of defies gravity as the pots are just held in the notches of the wood.  So far so good no tragedies.  The front of our house is really lacking in color so the Zinnias add a little something.  We are planning on re-doing our fence this summer and will eventually plant ....

New Guinea Impantiens.  I noticed these in our neighbors yard.  They get really tall and seem to do well here.  So I asked if I could take a clipping.  These guys rooted like gangbusters.

David did a ton (and I might actually mean a ton) of work adding another tier to our yard.  We are on a steep slope so our yard has a number of tiers.  This one (I hope) will be the last.  Lots of digging and woodwork.  We filled this one in with Cal wildflowers.  Had to rope it off from Miss dog (in background) who seems to want to Christen any new garden with a big dog log.  Urgh.

This is the only permanent raised bed we've managed to build.  Peas and favas are going crazy.  I'm giving them a week or so more before I dig em out and plant cukes.

This will be the site of the next raised bed.  In the meantime, David gave in to my need for flowers and we planted sunflowers (and a few favas to break up the soil and add nitrogen)  Again to keep Miss dog out we used the absolutely vicious fronds from the palm trees that fell over the winter.

Here is a pic of our waterfall.  Miss dog had herself an escapade of chasing our frog down it and brought all the stone down in a landslide.  Fortunately none ended in the pond and the frog survived.  So we had to relay all the stone.  Which is actually a mighty tricky task.  Trying to figure out the aqua dynamics of any one rocks requires the waterfall actually be on.  So we stood in the water hauling around rocks to see if the water splashed out or into the waterfall.  We will still have to cement this, but I've gotta do some research on what kind of cement won't kill our goldfish.  Hmmm I'm thinking that's probably the most expensive kind.

This is Davids current work in progress.  Now that we have the tiers set he's trying to figure out a walkway.  I'm not sure about the big square stones, but I love the river rock.  We're thinking we will fill the gaps in with thyme and baby's tears.

I'll leave you with a nice pic of the pond.  They water hyacinth are finally looking ok.  I had to haul out a bunch and clean them up from frost damage over the winter.  The fish seem happy and are apparently spawning if all the flipping and splashing is any indication.

Welcome to my garden.  Always something to do.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Land Rich Cash Poor TOOLS

Well I’ve survived a year as a new homeowner.  New home ownership comes with dreams of making the house yours.  Yup you can paint the walls blue if you want (I did).  Unfortunately it also comes with responsibilities since you can no longer call the landlord to fix the plumbing. 

Many new homeowners, like ourselves, just put down a big chunk of savings to get into the house.  That means less money available to fix, change or update.  So I thought I’d put together a series of posts of cost-saving ideas. 

Ok once you’ve finally moved out of your rental and into your new home.  You look out the window and notice the lawn needs trimming or the faucet is leaking and you need to tighten it down.  You suddenly realize YOU HAVE NO TOOLS.  Well some of you diehards probably have tools.  But as a renter why would you own a lawn mower or a plumbers wrench.

Your first most costly option is to hop on down to your local Home depot (or despot as we call it) and open your wallet.  That may be a fine option for some things.  We immediately ran out and bought a nice cordless drill.  But for some jobs it might be better to consider used tools or the less exciting, but practical and long-lived corded power tools.

Where do you get used tools?   There are a couple of options here.  There is always craigslist (this will be a recurring theme) or freecycle and that may be great if someone is selling/giving away what you want.  But unless you are a 2 cycle engine master, it might be hard to tell if the lawnmower you bought is going to work.  Another idea is to go to a shop that repairs tools.  Often they sell used tools they have repaired.  The upside to this is that if it breaks often they will fix it at no or low cost.  Also often tool rental businesses will sell used equiptment.

And what about those tools you are only going to use once.  You may need a jackhammer for a project, but do you really need to own one.  Of course if you have a neighbor/friend/relative who is a contractor you may be able to borrow, but not everyone is so blessed.  Here is where I really discovered a gem.  Many communities have what is called a tool lending library. Oftentimes all you need is a library card. Here are two I found in my community.  One in Berkeley (unfortunately you must live in Berkeley) and one in Oakland which even offers classes too.

If you don’t have a tool lending library in your area, you can always rent tools.  This is still a good option.  Contractors do this all the time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This is how we roll in da Hood

First a little explanation of our hood.  We live in Richmond, CA.  If you were to google Richmond, you might discover that it is one of the most dangerous cities in America.  What that statistic won't tell you is how diverse the neighborhoods are.  If you were to look at a map you might think that in the land grab Richmond got last draft pick with isolated pockets of land here and there, some ghetto, some farmland, some fancy waterfront and some regular neighborhoods.

When we bought our house last year we moved from the "safe" town of El Cerrito to "scary" Richmond.  Nevermind that I could almost throw a stone at El Cerrito town hall, pizza delivery is no longer an option. Thankfully I love to cook and our new digs have a fabulous kitchen.

So it was with great joy and irony that Mr. Fiberpuppy discovered this meat tenderizer.   He likes to say it sums up Richmond's culinary style.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy St. Pawtricks day.

Well here's another edition of ridiculous things people do to dress up their dogs.  (St. Patrick's day edition)  Enjoy!

Green and Shaggy

Green and curly

You've been shamrocked.

Party Pooch

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Working with what you've got

We've been in our new house since June.  We've been trying to take a wait and see approach to re-vamping the entire garden.  We wanted to see the yard in all it's seasons before making any major decisions.  (that and our limited budget).  Ironically, our back yard with it's 3  Koi ponds and 29 palms turned out to be not so awesome in terms of growing veggies being on a northern slope.  Other than that it is a paradise.

So with my desperate need for fresh herbs and veggies we looked around.  And discovered that our cement covered front yard had southern exposure.  Hmmmm. 

David being the perfectionist and asthetic had ideas of tearing up cement.  Um not even close to on our budget  I suggested building raised planters.  David agreed that could work, but we would need redwood since other woods would rot.  Again not on our budget (are you seeing a theme here?)   Perhaps next year once we recover from putting on a new roof.  But we did have some Doug fir (which would rot). 

Well in a stroke of genius (or bad taste if you ask David)  I remembered seeing plantings in old bathtubs and such and thought well heck I can buy plastic storage containers from Home depot for $4 a piece drill a hole in the bottom.  So David built a platform for the containers so they would get more sun over the fence.  And here they are.  I planted basil parsley, thyme and chives and have plans for another for tomatoes and cukes.

This is not a permanent solution.  But planting time is afoot and heck even fresh sprouts in plastic bins is an improvement over pavement in my mind.  Perhaps we can afford redwood next year.

Perhaps not to the aesthetic's eye a perfect solution but for those of us on a budget.  Hey if you have a deck you can have a garden.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The compost bin to withstand the apocolypse

This past weekend was gorgeous here in N. Cal.  We took a look around the yard thinking about where to put the veggies and realized we were going to need a boatload of dirt.  We decided we needed a compost  in order to satisfy our longterm need for dirt.

First problem was where.  We have raccoons in our yard so we didn't want it too close to the house.  Unfortunately, the perfect place for the compost required moving 2 trees.  "No problem" says David "I'll move those trees and after lunch we'll make the bin."

Well after a half day of digging up a ficus and a palm it became apparent that this project was not going to be done in one day.  Although we did find some neat bugs and salamanders on Saturday we didn't even start the bin.

Sunday David and I (mostly David) got started on the building.  Not being the most competent of carpenters it took us longer than expected.  By 7 on Sunday night I had to yell down to tell David I was gonna have 911 on speed dial if he didn't stop using the circular saw in the dark.

Well Monday we had to work but David came home early and ITS FINISHED.

Wait how long do we have to wait for our dirt?