Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Late Fall Garden

Late fall in the garden is a time of transition. It seems that only a few weeks ago it was 80 degrees out and too hot to plant the winter garden. I planted a few violas with scotch moss in small pots. I tried to buy a few more of these small oval pots to plant some mini iris bulbs in. No luck at this point.

Yummy romaine lettuce. I have been picking the leaves off for sandwiches. I still have a few yellow onions grown last year to add to them, too.

I planted twice the amount of red and yellow onions I did last year. Used up all the red onions first. Having your own stores of food is like having your own store (duh!). I think, gee, it would be nice to have some onion to go with this. Then I remember that they're on the back porch! 

Some baby pan choi and bok choy seedlings just sprouted. They should be ready to eat in a month or so.

Newly sprouted bulbs. I've had these mini-hyacinths for a couple of years. After they are done blooming, I put the pots away and let them dry out.

My new thing, fairy gardens. It does bring a bit of pleasure to recreate little gardens. I saw them at a nursery but it seems too expensive to buy all the fairy elements. So, I used things I have around like this bird house and found stones from the river.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Memory pillows

Okay, maybe this isn't the best title for this post... The pillows aren't made of memory foam but from old, favorite t-shirts of my friend's son. He is back from college and having to downsize his clothes. I needed some rags so she brought me some of his discards. I thought I would make him a quilt of his favorite t-shirts from the pile. Alas, he liked plain, un-logo-ed t-shirts...I found these 2 with nice logos from vacation trips to Hawaii. I could tell the Longboard Surf Club was a favorite from the frayed neck. With only 2 t-shirts to work with, I decided to make pillows instead. The t-shirts were boys medium in size so I had to add some fabric to the top of the white pillow to keep the logo centered on the pillow. The black pillow was a wife-beater t-shirt so I sewed a scrap in the spaces where the armholes were to make a 12 by 16 inch square. I cut the t-shirt apart at the sides and used the back to make a the flap since it had a finished t-shirt edge and I don't do zippered closures. I also sewed a 12 by 16 inch scrap piece of cotton batting to the wrong side of the front piece to give it a little more body and to help center the design on the pillow. Then, stitched around the logo, assembled the pieces (make sure the back is in the right order when turned inside out), trimmed the edges down and zig-zagged the cut edges. I slipped in the pillow form,straightened out the back and fussed it about to get it set right. Hope he likes them!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A little better

Here is the finished bookcase.  Hmm, I may be a little obsessed given the titles of the books on the shelves.

My favorite is the book on epigraphy. It is fascinating.

The room looks way more inviting in this direction. Sorry for the uneven lighting from the skylight in the room. Whenever I watch a show on the TV where the people in the show are considering moving into or buying a house or apartment with a slanted ceiling, all I can think of is No!No! Noooo.... don't do it! This is the only room in the house with a slanted ceiling except for the living room which is only a single story (so the ceiling is high, but I don't like that either). Every time I walk toward the low end, I end up hitting my head.  It is quite annoying. And, I am not that tall. Just in case you ever think about moving into or buying something with a slanted ceiling, you have been warned. 

A few campy stuffed animals here and there.

A favorite metal bar table even though I don't like or drink beer (except I do like beer batter for deep frying food).

An old Mexican chair.

The other chair. They are not really for sitting anymore. Some old woolen ponchos from Mexico. Once we wore them to the San Francisco Opera. It was cold and we didn't have any jackets. I can't remember exactly, but I think we had been to the football game to see the 49'ers play earlier in the day and were not "dressed for the opera" but we went anyway. (Oops, another little stuffed animal, all of which my Dad bought at yard sales but that is another story). I bought the zebra skin rug at a yard sale, too, for $20.  You never know what you will find at one, it is real but not in good condition because of its age.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A tour of my garden

I love looking at other people's gardens and backyards. So, let me give you a little tour of mine. The view from my kitchen.

I try to enjoy it in the morning before the heat. Last year, I had a nice cool patch of grass.  Not this year.  Not because of a drought or anything but because I planted strawberries (the very fragrant Mara de Bois) in Earth boxes and I am running out of space in the back yard garden. So, I didn't water the grass.

My beautiful succulents. Shortly after I took this photo, an unknown critter ran amuck in it ripping out many petals from the florets.  I had little teeth marks and scratches, too.  I think it might be a thirsty rat. And snails. I have to go on snail patrol.  I hate snails. And slugs. Apparently, succulents are quite tasty to snails and slugs. They eat the strawberries, too.

Another planter of succulents. This is a tall, concrete pot.  I've planted lots of different stuff in it over the years that really didn't thrive.  But the succulents do.

More succulents. The big one on the left is in the mate to the concrete pot and thriving, too!

A close-up.

I love this combination, to me, it is very Japanese.

Maybe a better shot.  The little pink flowers have red centers and the petals are pin eventually getting more white. The geranium looks a little like maples to me.

Not a good photo but also very Japanese to me, too.  The denim blue glaze on the pots, the vinca (Titan apricot) which looks a lot like Japanese flowers and the color, is the color I remember of Japanese under-kimono.

I love coneflowers!  And, nasturtiums.  And, the blue-green color on the pot. Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Projects

I am in desperate need of bookcases.  I have bought a few that sit atop a table or desk.  Then I bought this at a yard sale.  I sanded most of the stain off.  Then, I painted it white.  Then, I painted it orange. Then I sanded it again on the edges for a shabby chic effect.  Here is a detail of the top.

Here's what it looks like in my "library". I'm letting it dry a bit longer as the paint still seems a bit sticky.  I thought it was all solid wood but it wasn't.  The sides are veneer.  Just the top and the facias are solid wood.  Note to self: quit buying veneered furniture. I had to glue the bottom facia board back in place, too.  I wish I had some large furniture clamps. I wish I had a nail gun and compressor, too. Maybe Santa will bring me one if I am a good girl.

See desperate need.

Here is my other project from earlier this summer.  My tall friend painted the back of my kitchen cabinets with metallicized paint and then black chalk paint.  The reason is that "stainless steel" refrigerator in the background.  How can it be stainless steel when not one of my cherished refrigerator magnets will stick to it? The metal paint is a bit dodgy.  It has 2 coats.  I should have sanded it down. I should have used a smoother paint roller tube, too. I couldn't imagine the dust I would have had to clean up, though, if I had sanded it down. So I am just living with it.

Michaelangelo's David, Queen Nefertiti, King Tut, Marie Antoinette, Piero della Francesca, Pompei, Bernini's David (I have seen Donatello's David in Florence, too, but, they didn't have any refrigerator magnets of him) are some of the trophies I have collected among others. A few homemade magnets, too, including one I made from my own photo of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.
I bought a refrigerator magnet of San Francisco because it needed representation! Then, I wanted to write something on the chalkboard. The first part says, It's your story. Make if beautiful. Fill it up with what you love.  Remember what matters. Forget what doesn't. Have a happy life. Yes, it's from a greeting card but, really, it is  a nice philosophy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

So far this summer...the county fair

 We went on a sojourn to the county fair.  I say sojourn because we were there for about 7 hours.  The grown ups wanted to see the farm animals, pies, jams and quilts.  The kids wanted to go on the rides, of course! So, we did a bit of both. The rain forest exhibit was refreshingly cool and filled pretty tame critters.
Cute armadillos!

The basic ferris wheel.  Basic or not, I still didn't go on it.  When I was a kid, it was the last straw before all the other rides and junk food I ate revolted from all the sloshing and g-forces.

I didn't of go on this one either but it was the last ride for those who did at the end of our day. I'm sure the kids enjoyed the feeling of flying and the cooling effect of being swirled through the air.

Other worldly scene at dusk.  It started to feel like something like a science fiction scene from another world.  The incredible noise from the tractor pull going on added to the effect.  We were all pretty tuckered out by the end of the day. I haven't been to the county fair in years but I'm glad I did and it was lots more fun with the little kids!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hana Fukin Sashiko

Wanting to do something productive while wasting watching the TV at night, I decided that sashiko, a Japanese embroidery might be the ticket.  In the days before TV watching, well, folks used to be productive.  Men might carve wooden toys, spoons or bowls.  Women would sew or knit.  So, they would have to pay attention to what they were doing.  For me apparently, knitting and crocheting aren't mindless.  I have to concentrate.  That means I have to choose what to concentrate on.  But sashiko doesn't take much thought to do, once you put the pattern on your fabric.  Now, I am one of those people who is reluctant to throw something away, if it has faithfully performed its duty with style and maybe, is just a little worn out through use.  Hence, these lovely cotton dish cloths.  They were too thin to keep on using and people kept buying me new kitchen towels since I wouldn't quit using them.  And, it seems, well, silly so to buy throw away dusting cloths from the store.  So, I learned about hana fukin, Japanese kitchen cloths.  In the Japanese way of extreme thriftiness called shimatsu, items are reused, when no longer serving their original purpose.  In this instance, I folded the cloths in half, doubling their thickness and sewed them together.  Then, using a tin top, I traced intersecting semi circles to make these flowers.  Sewing the sashiko design went pretty fast.  Once again, my dishcloths have been recycled into pretty dust cloths.

My Mom used to be constantly in search of the most worn out t-shirts and pajamas because they made the softest dust cloths and wouldn't scratch the furniture.  I never understood why she prized her soft dust rags.  (Okay, she is the only person I ever knew who was obsessed with dusting).  She didn't sew her rags into hana fukin and I have never seen them in the houses of my Japanese aunts and uncles.  But, my grandmother died when my Mom and aunts were very young, so maybe this cultural practice wasn't passed down to them.  Sometimes, it is unspoken why people do the things they do.  (Another story is when my Mom would plant potatoes in the garden each year taking up the place where I wanted to grow tomatoes).  They just do things and we don't know why.  So, I think I will make more hana fukin.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Existential French cat


The existentialist French cat.  You are so aloof.  But, I have fallen for you and wonder what your true soul is like?  Do you drop your too cool demeanor to chase flying cat toys around the house and look the ridiculous?  Do you meow when your caretakers pop the top on your stinky canned food?  I guess I will have to wait for the next installment.

Je t'aime!  je t'aime!  Henri!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Alphonse Mucha - Recylced

I didn't know what to expect when I found myself in Prague on my last, (oh, too long ago) vacation.  Since, I had changed my vacation plans at the last moment, I really didn't have a clue about the city, where I was going to stay or what the exchange rate for their currency was.  All I had was my Rick Steves guidebook to go on.  But, the travel bureau sent me to a lovely hotel in the Jewish section of town.  (This I didn't know, although I walked by a pretty old synagogue from the train station on my the to my hotel.)

So, on my wanderings about Prague's old town center, a sign invited me to a combination Dali/Mucha museum and I decided to go and check out the works of the Spanish painter Salvadore Dali since I hadn't a clue about this guy Alphonse Mucha.  I could tell the Czechs had a pretty fervent emotion about him and so very rightly so as I came to agree. And the two ladies in front of me said his name with such a whispered reverence my interest was peaked because they were Spaniards.  After, viewing said museum, I checked out my guidebook again, and found yet another museum dedicated to Alphonse Mucha.  Then, I fell for him and his artwork (although, as the father of Art Nouveau, I just didn't know his name and that that he was pretty much it).  Much to my chagrin, I didn't purchase any prints from the gift store (I've lugged a cardboard tube around on vacation before and wasn't doing that again).  So, I  bought smaller items easier to transport like some very lovely bookmarks for gifts.  Then, I bought a couple of calendars because for some reason, I was compelled to by my very soul and I thought they would fit in my suitcase without too much damage, as I still had many cities to go.

So, after the year was up, I couldn't part with the calendar and decided to have some of the pages matted and framed for my niece's birthday.  She picked the gypsy for her gypsy soul.

And, the harvest girl holding grapes because, that is what she does.

And, this giclee poster is for me, purchased post trip, in a lovely, thrift store frame.  I looked everywhere for ages for a frame to go with it until I found this one.  She hangs in the living room, but it is too dark in there for a good photo.  Until my niece picks up her frames, I am going to enjoy looking at them in there, too.  Maybe she won't like my matte choices?  Maybe, the frames are too big for her apartment and she won't want them.  Maybe I need to go back to Prague and buy another calendar?  Yes?  No?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Feathering my Nest

I meant to post photos of some of the things I made last year but I didn't get around to it.  So here is a queen sized duvet cover I made for my down comforter.  I bought the fabric online so I didn't realize the it was gold.  But, it was beautiful and I loved it.  I made a couple of pillow cases to match.

Here it is laid out in the spare bedroom looking like a bohemian squat amidst some of my other ongoing projects.

I liked the pillow cases so much I made some green ones.  Then, I made some blue ones, too.  They are very cheery and make me feel like a princess!  Since they are 100% cotton, I usually don't throw them in the dryer after washing but air dry them and iron them to a crisp finish.  People (wives/women and servants, I suppose) used to iron all of their linens along with their clothes!  Hard to believe in this day and age.  Sometimes, I think I could be a hermit and never leave the house except to go on vacation!