Project of the Week

Ok, so this post was going to be about how I won’t be doing anymore projects for awhile. We leave for China next week. NEXT WEEK, PEOPLE! Needless to say, things are getting to be a bit hectic. However, I am DONE with all my performances. They were a smashing success. I am so pleased with my little ones at school. But it’s a huge relief not to be in charge of anything else for awhile (besides my normal teaching, of course). Speaking of teaching, I am also working a few extra days before I leave, so that adds to the craziness. And speaking of craziness, yesterday a microburst ripped through our front and back porch. We rushed out back, assuming that was where the most damage was done. Our bbq was knocked over. That’s how strong this was. Our stringed lights were knocked down but amazingly not broken. My awesome buddha beer bottles were scattered, but also not broken. My stoic hookah stood untouched and proud on the table. Whew. We go out front and this is where the true tragedy hit. My beautiful trellis, the pride and joy of my heart, had been viciously attacked and lay cripple with two broken legs. I AM SO UPSET!

Ok, back to the point. I had decided that I wasn’t going to worry about anymore projects. Then yesterday, I was leisurely sitting on my back porch, sipping my coffee, reading The Elfstones of Shannara, breathing in the scent of my jasmine in full bloom, listening to my fountain, when I wandered into the house for some random purpose (I forget), which brought me into my sewing room. With a burst of inspiration and determination, I set to work on a random project I’ve been wanting to do. I think it was because I saw my earrings that I had dumped out of their jewelry box reminding me of what I wanted to do. This is by no means original, but it goes along with my hippy-I-use-coffee-sacks-for-everything craftiness.

 

It was super quick. I grabbed an unused frame from the closet (This is one we brought back from our honeymoon in Hawaii. It was way too expensive, and we were dirt poor. We bought it anyway as our one souvenir. I have kept it all these years for sentimental reasons.) I cut some burlap, glued the edges on the back, and voila! The fun part was arranging all the earrings. Some of you may recognize ones you have given me over the years as bday gifts :) I have so many, I know. I have been neglecting them for the past few years because I forget about them tucked into a box. And then when I did want a pair, I had to dig around until I found them. Annoying. Now they are out in front of my face everyday so I will be reminded to wear them more often.

The end.

Project of the (Previous) Week

I missed my Monday deadline, sorry. But I did do a project last week! And it’s super cute. I did these Neon Shoes DIY:

The example/inspiration

I had a pair of brown, strappy heels that I thought would work. Here they are:

I decided to go with the pink and yellow, since I liked it. But then changed my mind. The heels/platform had a textured surface like a basket weave. I thought it would look like an easter basket. So I decided electric blue. I still left a pop of hot pink in there though.

Ooh la la!

The details: The texture made painting difficult. The electric blue polish was older and did not go on as smooth. The new yellow polish was awesome, even with the texture. Also, I had to do quite a few more coats to get all the little nooks and crannies, which made the surface much gunkier. However, it was a fun project, and I love the colors! But when I look up close and see all the flaws I’m not terribly happy with the results. I was going to just get rid of them because they are not very comfy anyway. But then I was getting ready for dinner at Zemam’s and feeling a little sassy. So I grabbed them out of the give-away pile and tried one on:

(disclaimer: It’s a crappy pic and my room is messy)

fyi taking a good pic of yourself in a mirror with an iPhone is really hard

They actually weren’t as uncomfortable when I’m sitting for long periods of time, so they are keepers for now :)

Project of the Week

I’ve been a bit brain-dead the past few weeks. It’s performance season in the land of music teachers.  I had my kindergarten performance at the end of March, and then the 3rd grade recorder concert last week. Both went extremely well, but they leave me very drained. I have one more to go at the beginning of May, which is actually only a few weeks away (eek!).

Regardless of my excuses, I did manage one simple project this week. So last year for my birthday, I co-hosted with Neal and we threw a Nerdy Geeky Birthday Party. It was awesome. We went costume hunting at the thrift store and came up with these outfits:

I know, right?

You can’t tell from this picture and my slouched posture but the blouse I’m wearing was actually pretty cute. I mean, who doesn’t love polka dots? The only thing was the length of the sleeves. They created too much poofiness. So after the party was over, I set it aside in my never-ending-pile-of-future-alterations. Finally, Friday I was in the midst of cleaning my dressing room/craft room. I remembered that I needed to do a project of the week and in a flurry of spontaneity I somehow pulled this blouse out and set to work.

I snipped those annoying sleeves:

See how long those suckers are?

Then I added mustard yellow bias tape around the edges. Bias tape has become my new bestie. If you have not discovered the wonders of it, you are missing out.

Tada!

Looks like a totally different shirt, right? I’m still contemplating putting some bias around the collar too. I didn’t personally model this shirt for you because:

a) I’m still in my pj’s and am not motivated to get dressed. Good thing I have a job where I have to get dressed some days of the week, huh?

b) It’s a bit snug around my love handles. Drat my chunks of love. They will forever be my nemesis. I’m working on this though. I’m trying to made cardio my new bestie. And salads. Sorry, bias tape.

c) I swear I have the shortest torso in the world, but apparently not. It’s a bit short to wear with low slung  jeans. Easily fixed with the right tank underneath. I just need to figure out which color, which requires me getting out of my pj’s. Also, a high-waisted skirt would do the trick. Again, I’d have to get out of my slobovia clothes, as Phil calls them.

But still, it’s super cute and I’m happy with the results. The whole thing took probably about 15 minutes. An easy fix. Now, if only I could tackle more from my to-be-altered pile …

 

 

Project of the Week

Does this count?

Happy Easter!

p.s. Last week’s garden post was technically my project of the week, since I did have to plant many new seeds. I should’ve specified that :)

Project of the Week

Actually, make that “Project of the Past Two Weeks”.

Tada! In case you’re wondering what it is, it’s a combo trellis for my garden (cucumbers and squash, specifically) and shade for our front door/window, which get quite toasty in the summer. I got the idea from here. Phil’s sister sent me that link last year and I found it tucked away in my “Projects” folder in Evernote. See, you just never know when you’re going to come back to something.

I started building the frame last Monday when Phil was out of town. Now while I enjoyed the freedom to do it completely MY way and not his super logical way, I did have to go back and undo things quite a few times. My biggest mistake, probably, was building half the frame indoors. Maybe.

At the time it made total sense to me. It kept me in the nice cool house. It was a bit warm outside, and I was being sun-cancer conscious and staying out of the harmful UV rays. But then I need to move it outside. All by myself. A big 7 foot by 8 foot frame. And no, I did not break anything. That was Phil’s first question when I told him my process.

Then I had to add on the other half. Many other “Oh crap, I should’ve done it that way” moments came to me during the rest of this. But I will save those for a conversation over wine.

Next step was painting a color that matched the house. It didn’t really turn out looking any different than the original wood color, but it does give a little bit more finished look to it. Then the rain/snow came last weekend and halted my progress. But Friday was beautiful outside so both Phil and I went to staple down the metal fencing wire mesh stuff. This was the whole point of this entire project – a trellis for my garden. The cucumbers and squash I plant are vining varieties and so will eventually climb and provide shade. Phil had the great idea of adding the shade cloth though. So back to Home Depot I went to get shade cloth. Then back another time to get those special fasteners for shade cloth that I thought I should get but decided I didn’t need them because we had a staple gun. (I was wrong, btw). And then back a 3rd time to get another pack because, again, I ignored that little voice of logic in my head that said, “Hmmm, maybe you should get two just in case”. Damn logic gets me every time.

Side note: We both, even in all Phil’s logical glory and super translucent skin, forgot to put on sunscreen. We totally fried. Now you see how genius it was of me to build the thing indoors.

Anyway, many more hours ensued between putting the entire thing into the ground, attaching the cloth, deciding to attach it up to the roof, perfecting it, etcetera, etcetera. Phil is still not done perfecting it, but I’m happy. I’m loving the shaded front porch and added privacy!

And here is a teaser for a very overdue garden post:

Red Creole Onions

Project of the week

My goal is to do my blog post on Mondays. Let’s pretend it’s last Monday, ok? I definitely was NOT ignoring my goal and playing Skyrim and sipping tea all day while it’s rained/snowed outside.

So my project of the week is actually three different projects. Three very simple ones that were on my list. I also think that doing three in a week is building up my karma for a future week where I’m too busy or uninspired.

Simple project #1:

I saw these cute ballet flats on Free People and thought, “Easy DIY!”. Mine turned out close, but not exact. I need to tweek the ribbons a bit still, but they are still cute!

It was a simple as buying black and nude ribbon (the nude looks a little golden in this pic, but it’s really not) and gluing them on my black ballet flats. I also took the little black bows off the front of the shoes after this pic. I wore them to dinner that night at Zemam’s with Mike and Bri. We have made this delicious Ethiopian and BYOW restaurant a monthly event.

Simple Project #2:

Obviously, I have tons of burlap laying around from my purses. It’s so trendy right now to do all kinds of things with it. My favorites I’ve seen though are these planters, tulip root balls, and cute curtain-ring redo. Another idea I came across was an earring holder. So I decided to do that but when I finished it was too pretty to cover with earrings. Mostly because of the awesome frame (which I already had laying around, neglected). So I brought it into Phil’s simple, modernistic office (imo it’s BARE and needs color!!!), and he agreed it would look nice above the keyboard (the musical kind). He rarely agrees to let me put something in there. So there is hangs. I still want to make one for my earrings, though.

Simple Project #3:

A pretty, matching trash bag for my car. Ok, I know this may not be a simple project for everyone. But since I have a sewing room all set up with all kinds of fabric, thread, bias tape, etc it was simple for me. This fabric is one of my faves that I brought back from Hawaii last year. I followed instructions from this awesome book I found called One Yard Wonders.

Ok that wraps up last week. I’m still working on my big, secret project. I just don’t want to show it off until it all complete and installed. Hint: it has something to do with my garden :) Stay tuned for Monday’s post.

Make-it Fridays. Or Mondays. Whatever.

This name I borrowed from my awesome friend with electric blue hair, Amanda Roberts, owner of Geek Details. She holds weekly gatherings where it’s an open invitation for people to come over and make things. I think they started at Make-it Mondays, and then she switched it to Fridays (scroll down a bit on her page to read about it). Or the other way around. Whatever. I’m contemplating copying this tradition. How fun would it be to weekly get together and make stuff together?! Thoughts?

Moving on. Last Sunday I posted about my goal of doing a weekly project. I’m happy to report that I’ve completed that goal! And, my other goal of blogging about it, obviously. My sweet friend, Keeley, told me she was excited to see what I chose. So here we go! In my ridiculously overstuffed evernote folder of project ideas, I have this tutorial for adding side panels to too-small or armpits-are-yucky shirts. I had a bunch of cheap t-shirts from Forever 21, in various colors. I loved the bright colors, but in their cheapness, they had shrunk. This was all due to the fact that they were $4 each and nothing whatsoever to do with me gaining weight ;) Here they are, all in their wrinkly glory:

(The red one I had already re-fashioned for last year’s Jimmy Eat World Concert. I cut the logo from a too-big shirt that was a too-small shirt for Phil and sewed it onto the currently-fitted-me red shirt.)

Next step, choosing which fabric to use for the side panels. That was a hard decision. I was starting with the bright blue shirt and chose a fabric.

Warning: Kitties like fabric. And cameras.

Then I realized I didn’t want any white fabric bc then that would eventually lead to yucky armpits. So I changed my mind, and I’m glad I did!

.

This is a knit fabric that I rescued from my mom’s fabric supply. This is legit knit from the 80’s! Love the retro-ness of it! It turned out so cute!

It was perfect for wearing to the farmer’s market last Sunday when the weather, obvious by my shorts, was beautiful! I also kept going and did the teal shirt, and also the black one.

These ones had both shrunk up lengthwise. I didn’t realize that until I had finished the teal one, so I added length to the black one. I might go back one day and do the same for the teal.

So this kept me busy this week whenever I felt like doing something productive. It also gives me a nice addition to my wardrobe for free!

On to this week’s project! Actually, I’ve already completed it, but it was so easy that I don’t think it counts. So I might have two projects to blog about next week. We’ll see …

Kitchen Efficienizing (Part 2)

Backsplash Edition:

Ok, so this isn’t really efficienizing anything, but it sure is giving the kitchen some pizzazz! We’ve been thinking and exploring ways to put up a backsplash that are a) doable with our limited handyman skills and tools, and b) inexpensive. I read an article on Apartment Therapy about DIY Backsplash Ideas that pointed us in the right direction. Then somehow I came across this post about snip and stick tiles. Ooooh, seems just like something we could handle! So we set off to find the best bang for our buck. We liked these but when we added up the total it was pretty pricey. So off to Amazon we go! And we found what we wanted: brushed aluminum tiles (real metal, not plastic) that you stick on the wall, and affordable!

Handy Wall Tiles  (As seen on TV, according to the package…)

I read all the reviews (A first for me. I never think to do that, and then Mr. P asks why I didn’t!). We were good to go. I ordered 2 packs, figuring I’d we’d do this in little installments to make it even more budget friendly, and less overwhelming to get done. I even ordered a matching light switch cover! Although, I didn’t check to see that there were two light switches that would need to be covered. Sigh.

They arrive, Phil freaks out bc I didn’t consult him for the final decision, I get upset, he lays them out and sees that they will work, all is right with the world again.

Our counter(s) before: (please excuse the crappy pictures. Hopefully, you know, from previous blog posts, that I can take good pictures!).

Booooooooring!

After (still in progress!!)

Oooooh, so schnazzy!

Yes, this is a different counter than the before, because I didn’t think of this blog post until after we had started.

p.s. See those cute little gnomes? They are salt n pepper shakers! Felipe gave them to me on our anniversary. All together now: Awwwwwwwww! I think they may be making future appearances.

Obviously we aren’t finished. We need to cut some tiles to go around the switches, but I’m really scared to do that because it has to be very precise. Did I mention these tiles are (supposedly) cuttable with scissors? Neato!

And that area didn’t even take up a whole pack. If we decide to do another row up, then it probably will. But I ordered two, so the other side of the sink can be done too. Yay!

Kitchen Efficienizing (Part 1)

 

Yes, I know that’s not a real word.

My latest project has been to efficienize the kitchen. Felipe would always complain about how hard it was for both of us to make dinner together in there. He said once, “We need a more efficient kitchen!” So that got me thinking… I couldn’t do anything about the actual space, but I could do little things here and there to make working together run more smoothly. Now don’t assume we had a messy, cluttered kitchen. I actually keep a very tidy kitchen (excluding the usual pile of dishes that need to be washed…). I had already de-cluttered the kitchen counter. I had organized drawers and cabinets. My space where I stand to cook is actually an ideal triangle between the stove, counter/sink, and fridge. But there was definitely room for creative improvement.

So my first goal was to make a pot rack! Those ones made out of pegboard. I really am quite proud of this solution I came up with. I HATED squatting down and reaching in a deep cabinet for a pot or pan. And then if I emptied that cabinet, I would have room for our food processor, ice cream maker, and ice tea maker. Don’t judge. Those are necessities in our life. Those 3 appliances were crammed in whatever nook I could find. I researched how to make a pegboard pot rack and set to work. Note, if you are a cute girl and you go alone to home depot and *ahem* non-flirtatiously ask the lumber guys to cut wood to precise measurements, they will.

 

 

Tada!

I gorrilla glued. I drilled. I painted. I knocked over the board and scuffed it. I sanded out the scuffs. I painted again. I knocked it over again. I sanded. I painted. Kiki knocked it over. Sigh. I’m such a handyman girl! Dot dot dot. I let Phil do the installation after all that.

A few weeks later and I am very pleased with this solution. I love just walking over and grabbing a pot off the wall. I love the color it brings to the kitchen. I love having all my appliances neatly tucked away and not next to toppling tupperware or precariously balancing on the edge of a shelf. Huzzah!

The Virtual Making of Things

I love it when Cory Doctorow tweets out a request for ideas for his next MAKE Magazine column. Near instantly, my Twitter feed is flooded with wonderful and intriguing ideas, each one as fantastic as the next. This time, the ideas caused my brain wheels to spin feverishly, and then I had a light bulb.

I’m a web developer – that is, I spend a good portion of my time writing code. I tap into APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and manipulate the steady stream of data. Just last month, I wrote some code to interact with the Google Geocoding API and the FCC’s Census API. Enter a US address, get back a census tract (the neighborhood-sized organizational units that the Census Bureau breaks cities and counties into). Developers love taking data and making it do useful things.

Writing code is the virtual making of things.

I’m not talking about making things like in Second Life, where you can write a script to create a virtual object in a virtual world that does virtual things. No, I’m talking about writing code (and building upon others’ open code) that makes something that is useful in the real world. The 50,000+ developers on Apple’s iTunes App Store and Google’s Android Marketplace are makers. Hundreds of thousands of apps that transform our smartphones into task managers, alarm clocks and weight-loss coaches.

Now, imagine a world where everything is programmable. Every physical object has an address and an API. In Doctorow’s Makers, he describes an inventory system where every object in your house is addressable. Take that a step further, where every object in your house is programmable. Not just the obvious, like the refrigerator that orders missing ingredients from your weekly recipes, or the central heating/cooling that adjusts temperature based on who is home and how they’re feeling. I’m talking about MAKE-style innovation – appliances that talk to each other, bookshelves that recommend your next novel, tables and chairs that adjust themselves to the user, gardens that monitor and adjust soil nutrients. If you’re thinking that sounds like artificial intelligence, you’re right – it nearly is. But until AI can achieve sentience (self-awareness and self-control), all of these pseudo-intelligent objects must be pre-programmed by developers.

Such is a world where software developers are the stewards of our daily living. And the makers at MAKE and all around the world are building the hardware to take us there.

Original photo by heipei, via a CC License