Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunprint Pillow

On designsponge I saw this tutorial for a photogram wreath wall hanging.  The tutorial uses inkodye, a photosensitive dye to make an image of an evergreen wreath on a piece of fabric to use as a wall hanging.  As a kid, I remember making lots of sunprints of various plants on sunprint paper but I had never seen the process on fabric.  I immediately bought the smallest jar of the blue ink from the manufacturer's website.  Of course, a few days later, they were selling larger bottles of it on Fab.  I wish I had gotten the larger bottle because the process really uses a lot of the dye.  There are all sorts of amazing things I could have made with this stuff, but I liked the image on designsponge so much, and wasn't feeling too creative, so I stuck pretty closely with the tutorial.  

I painted the dye onto a piece of unbleached canvas fabric which I binder-clipped to a piece of cardboard.  Since evergreen clippings are not so easily come by in Southern California, I collected California poppy leaves from the garden and arranged them into the shape of a wreath.  When I made Easter/Passover eggs this past spring, I discovered that California poppies made the best leaf impressions of anything in our yard.  In the tutorial they just pinned down the branches onto the cardboard, but mentioned that you could hold them down with glass for a clearer impression.  I took the glass out of a picture frame and placed it over the leaves.  The glass didn't lie completely flat over the leaves because of the binder-clips however. If I did this again I would use something else to hold the fabric in place over the cardboard so I could hopefully get a clearer impression. 

When you paint the dye on the fabric it is almost clear, but after a few mins in the sun it starts to turn purple.  In the designsponge tutorial they weren't super clear about which picture was from which stage in the process and in the comments people were asking how they got this purple colored dye since inkodye only comes in red, orange and blue.  This is just the initial color that the blue ink turns in the sun.  I left mine in the sun for about 16 mins.  After taking the whole sandwich apart I washed the fabric in the washing machine twice to get out all the excess dye.  After washing it it turns blue.  

I sewed the sunprinted fabric into a pillow, using plain unbleached canvas for the back and an Ikea pillow insert as stuffing and gave it to my Mom as a Christmas present.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Curry Plant Wreath

Curry Plant Wreath by krakencrafts
Curry Plant Wreath, a photo by krakencrafts on Flickr.

My curry plant (which looks like rosemary but smells like curry) was getting out of control so I used the cuttings to make a wreath with a wire coat hanger and some floral wire.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Baby Pumpkins

Baby Pumpkins by krakencrafts

Baby Pumpkins, a photo by krakencrafts on Flickr.
I've had quite a few volunteer squash plants pop up in the garden this year. Most of them turned out to be butternut squash, but it looks like this one, that is growing in a pot underneath a tomato plant, is a baby pumpkin. I did have one decorative baby pumpkin last fall that I ended up tossing in the compost after it started to rot. I guess this is one of its progeny.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Stinky Succulent Flower

I've had this Stapelia gigantea succulent for I think at least five years.  I grew it from a small pinched off cutting and it has, very slowly, grown into this still not super giant plant.  I have been hoping it would flower at some point because they are supposed to have really gorgeous starfish-like flowers.  Last year it produced a small flower bud, but it ended up shriveling up and falling off.  Earlier this summer, I was pleasantly surprised by this huge bud. 

 Little did I know it would turn into a really really huge bud.

After a lot of waiting, this weekend it finally started to open.

And yesterday it opened completely.  The plant is sometimes called carrion flower and is rumored to smell like dog poop.  I believe it's primary pollinators are flies (you can see one on the picture below) who seem to enjoy the smell of those kinds of things.  This one definitely smells a little off, but not in a disgusting way.  I think it smells a little like bonito flakes or maybe kimchi.

Anyway, I wanted to document the flower, since it is already starting to wilt and I don't know how many years it will be before the plant produces another one.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hops Harvest

This year we grew four different kinds of hops, Cascade, Nugget, Magnum and Centennial.  We ordered the rhizomes from the thyme garden in Alsea, OR in November and got them shipped to us in March.  They all started out doing about the same, and the Magnum even started climbing up its twine first, but the Cascade and Nugget ended up being the only ones that really took off.  

Supposedly, in the first year, you shouldn't expect to get any cones.  So I was pleasantly surprised when the Nugget bine started to produce burrs.

Which eventually turned into really big cones.

It was hard to figure out when exactly I should harvest them, so I ended up just harvesting a few of the drier and more hoppy smelling ones and leaving on some of the wetter greener ones to harvest later.  

It isn't too big of a harvest, but there are at least this many still left on the plant for a later harvest.  The Cascade bine also has a few cones on it, but literally only 4 or 5 of them, so I'm not sure they will be worth harvesting. 


I'm drying them in the garage on top of an old screen door with mesh fabric covering them so they don't fly away.  Once they are dry I'll put them in the freezer.  Nate should be able to use them for at least one batch of home brew.  And next year, we should hopefully get a bunch more cones and maybe the other varieties will start to do a little better. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Keita's First Camping Trip

We took Keita on her first camping trip this past weekend.  It was also a trip to celebrate our second anniversary.  We camped at Buckhorn Campground in the Angeles National Forrest.  As we were driving up the Angeles Crest Highway the landscape was looking pretty dry and hot with just shrubs and yuccas, but once we got over about 5000 ft. it turned into mixed conifer forest with pines and incense cedars.  The campground itself was even more lush looking, well comparatively lush.  There were lots of wildflowers and currant and thimbleberry bushes.  

We made shish kabobs for dinner the first night and hotdogs and beans the second night.

The second day we were there we stumbled across the trail to the summit of Mt. Waterman a 8038 ft. peak in the San Gabriels.  It was about a 6 mile round trip hike from our campground.  We've actually skied at Mt. Waterman a good number of times so it was interesting to see the area in the summer without any snow. 

Keita was a little barky and territorial of our campsite and probably would have rather been sleeping on our couch in font of the TV, but I think overall she had a good time.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In The Garden June 2012

Since I get to work from home, I tend to go out and check on the garden multiple times a day. So its king of hard to see much change between visits.  I was out of town all last week for work and so I got to come home to more noticeable progress. 

The first tomatoes are starting to get ripe.  These are Black Krim which actually grew as volunteers from our compost.  I made gazpacho last year from the Black Krim tomatoes that I grew in the garden and accidentally threw all the tomato seeds in the compost instead of down the garbage disposal.  Since then they have been popping up all over the garden.  This weird tomato developed from a monster fused tomato flower which I guess is kind of common on brandywine type heirloom tomato plants.

The tassels are starting to emerge on the corn in the three sisters planter box behind the barn.  I can only see one ear forming. Hopefully the ears will catch up with the tassels soon. 

I think we will end up with a bumper butternut squash harvest.  The little baby butternut squashes are so cute.

The purple tomatillos are growing like crazy.  I have never grown them before and never really cooked with them either.  I will be making a whole lot of salsa verde.  But, I think I'm going to have to look up some more things to do with them also.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


After a long period of fear and procrastination, we finally tiled our bathroom floor.  As you may remember, when we bought the house, the bathroom had decent looking grey and white tile in the tub surround, counter and backsplash, but the floor was just sheet vinyl (as shown below).  It actually wasn't too ugly for sheet vinyl and vaguely resembled white tiles with grey grout.  But, it still needed to go.  

I have always loved hex tiles, especially on bathroom floors.  I know they aren't that practical, since there is an awful lot of grout to get stained or cracked.  But we figured that with dark grey grout, stains shouldn't show up nearly as easily as with white grout.  

The whole process ended up being pretty involved and taking two weekends.  First we took off the base boards, ripped up the vinyl and took off the toilet.  In a house with only one bathroom, having to take off the toilet is a pretty major deal.  Underneath the vinyl was just plywood subfloor which apparently is too flexible for tile.  So we cut and thin-setted down cement backer board.  After that was dry and we could walk on it we put the toilet back on.  The tile we ordered from Lowe's still hadn't come in yet and we weren't going to go all week without a toilet.  

Once the tile finally came in we took the toilet off again and started dry fitting and cutting the tile. Cutting 1" hex tile on a mesh backing is not an easy thing to do.  We tried cutting it with a wet saw borrowed from a friend at first, but the water disintegrated the glue on the mesh backing and all the tiles started falling off.  We ended getting this kind of paper-cutter-like thing that we used to hand score the tiles and then crack them.  Not super accurate on 1" tiles, but it worked well enough for us. 

After dry fitting all the tiles and numbering each sheet, we layer them down with thin-set.  

Here they are all thin-stetted down. 

The next day was grouting, then buffing, putting the toilet back on, and more buffing. 

All in all I think it turned out pretty ok for our first ever tiling experience.  Definitely not perfect, but good enough to live with. 

We still need to put the baseboards back on.  That should hide some of the roughness around the edges.   

I think it made us more confident in the possibility of tiling the kitchen floor and backsplash at some point and I think it saved us a good chunk of change. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Schoolhouse Light

The other day I was pointing out to Nate, how much I liked this Hawkins light fixture from Rejuvenation House Parts in their catalogue.  Our house still has mostly brass hardware, except in the bathroom and kitchen.  And even though it seems like brass hardware is making a comeback I think we will slowly try to fade it out of our house.  We really want to replace the light fixtures in the kitchen, the front entry and the back hallway, but we want the metal on any new fixtures to match the door handles and whatnot near it both now and in the future.  When I saw these white porcelain  fixtures I thought they would be the perfect solution.  They wouldn't be metal so they wouldn't need to match any other metal.  The only problem, with the shade, each fixture is $195.  More than I want to spend on something we need four of.


Then we went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore looking for tile because we are finally going to tile the bathroom floor (hopefully that will be another post soon).  They did not have the white hex tile we were looking for, but they did have this lovely vintage schoolhouse light.

It is kind of amazing how similar it is.  And it was only $20.  Sadly they only had one of them.  If they had two of them we would have used them in the kitchen,  But since there was only one and it hung down a little too low to use in the entry way, it ended up in the back hallway.  This was the old light fixture.  Possibly the ugliest shiny brass nipple light ever.

Here is what the hallway looked like before.  This was before painting the hallway grey and when we only had curtains on the washing machine closet.  

With just a little paint, magically finding the closet doors in the garage rafters and a new light fixture it looks so much better. 

I think we are going to need to stop by the ReStore more often to see if we can score some more vintage schoolhouse lights and to donate that old brass monstrosity.

Friday, May 11, 2012

In the Garden May 2012

Just wanted to post another garden update.  We built one more planter box.  This one is an an odd space that looks like it wouldn't get much sun since it is wedged in-between the barn and the wall of the back planter box.  But this is the south side of the barn, so it actually ends up getting sun pretty much all day.  I wanted to try growing a three sisters garden which is a companion planting of corn, beans and squash common in Iroquois gardens.  The corn acts as a support for the beans, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil and the squash covers the soil to prevent weeds and hold in moisture.  The corn is Stowell's evergreen sweet corn.  I planted it in about mid April.  I planted the beans a couple of weeks later.  When I read up on three sisters gardens, it said to wait until your corn is 6" tall before planting the beans or else the beans will outgrow the corn.  I think mine was almost that tall, but some of the beans are already taller than the corn next to them.  The beans are rattlesnake snap beans.  I bought both the corn and bean seeds savers exchange. The squash was just butternut squash seeds that I saved from one from the CSA and some transplanted mystery squash that has been sprouting all over the garden, probably from the compost bin. 

I finally pulled out the end of the fava beans from main raised vegetable garden.  I love fava beans, but they just took up way too much room.  They kept flowering and producing more fava beans so it was really hard to just give up on them and pull them out.  I wanted to get tomatoes and tomatillos in the ground though, so I finally just composted them.  If I plant them again next year I think I will put them in the new narrow planter box so they will be confined to a smaller space and won't flop over on other things.  Before I pulled out the favas some of my tomatillo plants that I started from seed were just getting too big for their tiny pots.  I gave up and just planted two in big pots.  They are blooming now and have such pretty blossoms. Supposedly they aren't self fertile so I put the pots right next to each other so the bees have an easy time going from one flower to the next. 

 The blueberries on my tiny blueberry bush are starting to get ripe.

The first strawberry is just about ready to pick.  I have to make sure I get to it before the slugs or squirrels.

The plums are getting bigger.

Lots of flowers in the herb garden.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mini Saint Berweiler Poo

Keita had her first birthday back in April.  Sadly we kind of forgot about it, so I think we are going to be celebrating her adoption day instead of her actual (as estimated by the vet) birthday.  I did get one birthday present from Nate which was kind of a birthday present for Keita, a dog DNA test.  

When we adopted Keita the rescue group told us that they thought she was a labradoodle.  When she and her litter mates were being dropped off at the pound someone from the rescue group happened to be there to pick up another dog at the same time and ended picking them up too.  I guess the owner of her mother who was dropping off the litter said that she thought they were labradoodles.  When she was a puppy it was kind of believable, but as she got older we became pretty positive there was neither any lab or any doodle in her.  She definitely looks like some kind of terrier mix and that is what just about everyone who saw her guessed she was.  

Yesterday we got the DNA test back.  Here are the results:

Even though she doesn't have poodle-like fur and hates the water, she is actually 50% miniature poodle.  That wasn't all that shocking.  She is small and, like a lot of poodle mixes, has a very cute beard.  What is shocking is that she is also 25% saint bernard.  In a million years I would never have guessed saint bernard.  She is also apparently 11.5% rottweiler, 2% sussex spaniel and less than one percent akita, black russian terrier and lhasa apso.  I have dubbed her the new fancy designer breed mini saint berweiler poo.

Nate sent the rescue group the results so they could forward it on to the people who adopted her litter mates.  A couple of them sent back pictures of their mini saint berweiler poos.

Keita's brother Sam with his new owners.

And her sister Sadie.

It is amazing how much they look like her.  I'm not completely convinced about the test results.  But I'm  kind of tickled to thing that our little 22 lb. puppy is really part saint bernard and rottweiler.  I'm glad she didn't end up being 180 lbs.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Master Bedroom

We haven't done much of anything to the master bedroom since about a month after we moved it, but somehow I don't think I ever posted pictures of it.  

The mirror came from an estate sale.  Originally we were going to hang it on the wall horizontally, but it was too big to fit over the dresser.  So we just propped it up against the wall vertically to make an almost full length mirror.

We got the bed frame on craigslist from a mid-century furniture dealer.  It's Danish and from the 70's.  I think we got it for about half of what he normally would charge because it had some scratches on it.  With the attached floating nigh stands it just barely fits in the room.  But I think since it is all one piece the room doesn't look too crowded.

My aunt made the wooden coat rack.  We have another larger one that she made in the entry hall.

We got this dresser for only $5 at a garage sale near our old house.