May 31, 2015

Rainbow cloud

This photo does not at all do it justice:
Driving we saw this sliver of a cloud showing the whole color spectrum! And as we drove it changed, from more red-heavy to more purple-heavy. Truly beautiful natural phenomenon. Also, it's a thing! (Hmmm... I can't figure out how to hyperlink while using blogger app on mobile device... Here's a link:

May 1, 2015

How ivy held on to bricks

This is a picture of little bits of ivy where it had been holding tight to some brick, before some spring cleaning. I think it's pretty. The little ivy curls look like exotic pseudoanimals!

March 24, 2015

Shoes to Dye For

Did you know that it's apparently extremely easy to dye shoes?

Take, for example, this sad knockoff pair of Keds (in this case, $5 kids ones from H&M):

All you need to add is some Rit dye(Lara went with fuscia), a plastic bucket, some hot water, rubber gloves, and some kind of stirring implement that you can throw away immediately after.

The result? A deliciously bright pair of happy spring kicks fit for the effervescent 3rd grader in your life:

I love that the nylon thread didn't pick up any of the color - it really makes for a great contrast on the seams.

March 8, 2015

In the Show

While I definitely haven't lived up to my promise to myself to paint once every two weeks after my art class ended, I did manage to paint once. The result:

The painting dried just in time for me to submit it to PAFA's juried exhibit - and it was accepted! Today we went to see the show. (I think I need to start working on bigger canvases? Mine seems tiny somehow...)

Oh, and I also remembered to take a shot of the painting next to the setup while I was still working on it:

March 3, 2015

The Office is Gone, Long Live Jake's Bedroom

This weekend was very exciting in the forty-two roads household - Jake officially moved into his own bedroom! Of course that room used to be the office, and part of the challenge was figuring out how to decamp from the giant sprawling 8 foot desk and consolidate our office needs into our bedroom. My solution? After searching high and low for something that would fit, I realized that I could simply create a custom-fitted desk that fits perfectly in a nook by a window:

It is most built from IKEA parts, but removing the existing drawer fronts and cutting new ones out of maple plywood and adding nice bar handles (thanks, Nancy!) really gave the whole thing a more expensive vibe. The table top is a really pretty piece of butcher block which I successfully cut by myself with only a power jig saw. It was... probably not the most appropriate tool for the job. But on the plus side I have a really great sense of how to handle that thing well now!

Once I had cut and sanded the plywood to the right dimensions - well, actually about 1/8" smaller to highlight the look of the eased edges more - I super carefully measured and created all the same holes and things that IKEA uses on the obverse side so that I could just attach them with the existing screws and dowels. The main issue was creating a channel for the drawer bottom to fit into. Since I don't have a router, I just used one of the carving heads on my Dremel. The result is wonky but totally functional, and basically invisible since the drawer bottom now covers my not-totally-straight carving job. Here is a closeup of the drawer unit:

(Oh, and a tip - IKEA's website only has the Alex with narrow drawers, but in stores they have the Alex we actually got, with a hanging file system in the bottom.)

February 18, 2015

Little Cardboard Toys Feature

Oh, now here's a nice bit of something exciting and flattering: the cardboard work of yours truly has just been featured on Havven, an Australian blog that is the hub for home and garden DIY inspiration, clever reuse ideas and yummy recipes.

Go check it out right here!

Thanks so much, Havven!

February 11, 2015


Ok, so, over the past year we just might have developed some kind of small tiny issue with one of the basement walls:

Yeah. That is indeed a picture of all the paint and plaster just falling off that wall in sheets because of an incredibly small amount of unstoppable moisture coming in from who knows where. Finding the source would probably mean having to take apart our entire house, since this is a center wall that is shared with a neighbor who is experiencing none of this on their side.

On the plus side, once all the plaster fell down, we realized that now that the wall was exposed to the air, whatever moisture was being trapped under plaster was simply able to evaporate without causing any more problems. But on the minus side, it looked like a wall where all the plaster had fallen down. Our solution? Cover the wall with something that wasn't airtight and wouldn't actually touch the wall.

First, I put up a few waterproof 1"x3"s (I think they are usually used as outdoor trim):

And over them went a layer of this bamboo wall covering,which comes in 4 by 8 foot sheets with a nylon mesh backing:

Here's a view looking down the stairs:

Problem solved, if I do say so myself!

January 25, 2015

Prague in the 80's

Am I still extremely slowly scanning my grandfather's slides, you ask? Why yes, I am. I definitely thought this would be a one month project, but like with every other thing I have ever done, I was clearly way underestimating the timing. Still, little chunk of slides has revealed surprising treasure. Last week, I started scanning a set of slides labeled "Travels in Czechoslovakia" from 1986.

I don't know where these places are, and my brief attempt to Google has led basically nowhere.

But now I am having daydreams of going to Prague, finding these buildings, and taking updates photos to match.

Looking at these, I can almost exactly see my grandfather setting up these shots, adjusting his camera, choosing his frame. It's like a Proustian madeleine, and all my memories of him come flooding back.

January 24, 2015

How Do You Say "The Borrowers" in Spanish?

In a perfectly time bit of coincidence, just as we have been reading The Borrowers at home, Lara got an assignment to build a tiny house out of recycled materials for Spanish class (the Spanish element is that each element of this little house had to be labeled en espagnol). Increasing the serendipity? A long, looooooong, 4 day weekend - just about perfect for spending a day cobbling together little odds and ends around the house into furniture.


Check out the horrifying dystopia of this universe: the TV says "Latest News" with a picture of robots with guns on their head shooting at each other:

My favorite thing is the super tiny composition book Lara made for the desk and the wire pen lying next to it:

(To get a sense of the size - the table and chair legs are made out of straws)

January 23, 2015

The Darling Buds of... January?

So, much like the summer whose lease hath all too short a date, our office chairs have recently also fallen way out of bloom. What started as a fresh, bright upholstery job of chartreuse leaves on a crisp white background, after 8 or years turned into a brown faded mess riddled with holes. I mean, seriously - this is not cool:

So it was staple gun, screw driver (for prying mostly), and most importantly fun new fabric to the rescue!

Of course I now realize I failed to capture this in photographic form, but I do love how the graphic black and white really complements the pattern of the radiator cover in this room (you can see a bit of it in the "before" picture).

December 26, 2014

Lego Bag for the Boy

From Lara to Jake: a bag embroidered with a bunch of Jake's favorite things... Legos!

There was a small assist from me on the bag construction front (check out the fun grommets and carabiner that make the strap adjustable):

Lara worked for weeks on this amazing embroidery - everything from design to execution is totally hers:

December 25, 2014

Eggplant and Pears

Sadly, my semester is over. Hopefully I will get to take another class soon! I won't post my many nudes here, but here are a couple of homework assignments from the past few months:

December 11, 2014

Shark Bait

The holiday season is here yet again, which as always means... making lovely things for other people!

This year, for Jake - a scarf with some bite to it:

I used super soft fleece for the body and some felt pieces for the face. Looking sharp, no?

November 22, 2014

Jakey's Bee Book

Everyone is having a great fall.
Just wanted to share something pretty fun from Jake's class. His amazing kindergarten teachers are pretty inspiring, and they had a whole unit on bees, including visiting beekeepers, studying hives, learning about bee anatomy, etc. The kids got really into it, and Jake absolutely loved it. As the final part of the project, the kids were supposed to write something about bees; Jake make a whole bee book! The book is such a hit that his teachers (and, of course, us as well) quote it - check it out (with accompanying translation, as he totally did this on his own, and so things are spelled as he imagines they should be):
How Bees Make Honey, by Jake

Honey is good. Bees are very good at work but they are not the only pollenators - Bats, Birds!

If you are making honey right now, you are a bee! Cocoons - these might make you surprised when you hear about these things

Bees: honey bees are the only (things) that could make honey; but where does honey come from? Flowers!

Honey: Why is honey good for us? Because it helps our brain!

Jake also made this fun little stop motion of a bee getting pollen from a flower and taking it back to its hive (via the awesome app, StopMotion)

He also has a hilarious, many-minutes-long "lecture" explaining Bee anatomy, and demonstrating how bees communicate with dancing. It's hilarious.

October 28, 2014

Art Class

For the past few months, I've been taking a figure drawing and painting class at PAFA on Tuesday mornings*. It has been so, so, SO wonderful to pick up charcoal and paintbrushes again! The class is taught by Doug Martenson, whose approach is so relaxed and helpful and kindly insightful, that the studio is a total joy. Also a joy? The fact that we are getting all Degas up in there, complete with a trip to the ballet studio and a couple of modeling sessions with one of the ballerinas. I've been loving every second of it.

Black and white charcoal on toned paper:



(finished work)

So far so good, I think, although I clearly need to fit the figure better to the surface... Next time.

* Can I just say that it is wonderful that someone offers continuing ed classes during the day? It would basically be impossible for me to take a evening class. And there are at least two other freelancer or stay at home moms in the class, rocking their brushwork, so I know there are many of us in this boat.