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.

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