Rekindling My Love of Photography via Boots

Whatcha doing mom?

Whatcha doing mom?

Uploading lots and lots of pictures, baby girl!

I’ve been picking my camera up a lot more lately. Like with every other hobby I have, I go through phases and spring and summer tend to mean more photos. There’s just something about sunny days and green trees that makes me want to capture moments, people and things.

This was the shot that inspired me to start taking pictures regularly again. It’s the first picture I’ve taken that I really, really like in a while.

Boots

Boots – Hammond, IN 2014

It’s a shot of my band, Boots (in which I play keyboard), wearing our boots outside of a punk house in Hammond, IN where we did some of our recording. Hopefully it will end up on the insert of our demo tape. My favorite thing about it is that it captures all of our personalities to a T and if you know us, it’s pretty easy to pick out who’s who.

We’re playing our second show and recording vocals for our demo tape next week! The ladies in the band are strong, smart and inspiring and I can’t wait to spend more time hanging out with them and playing shows this summer!

The Something Old, Something New, Somethings Borrowed and Something Blue Clock

A few months ago I stumbled upon Projectophile, thanks to a Facebook post made by Scott from King Crow Comics about his new chair which his wife, Clare*, the very funny and talented writer of Projectophile, had found in an alley and reupholstered.

I poked around her blog a bit and found this:img_3538-e1394679372153

Create Whimsical Wall Art Out of Dirty Old Hubcaps

My first thought was, Cool! My second thought was, I need a hubcap clock on my wall!

A week later I went out to The Chicago Diner for dinner with my band mates and found a perfectly shaped hubcap lying in the snow right where I had parked my car on California. So without hesitation, I popped my trunk open and threw it in. The hubcap clock was meant to be!

First order of business was to scrub it clean, rinse and then scrub again using an old toothbrush to get into all of those nooks and crannies. Like, Clare, I’m a renter, so I just threw it in the bathtub without a second thought and used a little Bon Ami to cut through the grime.

I cut off the zip tie and broke off unwanted pieces of plastic on the back of the hubcap at this point and then dried it (I used one of the towels we use to bathe the dogs to dry it off). Then I set it aside while I sketched out some possible color schemes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASqueaky clean hubcap, front and back. I wouldn’t eat off of it, but it’ll do!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy original plan was to turn it into a black and white straightedge clock with 12 x’s instead of numbers, but after a bit of consideration I decided against that since I don’t want my apartment to look like the home of some 23-year-old youth crew boy.

Nick and I have been working towards a joint aesthetic ever since our roommate moved out and we turned his old room into our hobby room. Nick tends to go for simple, clean, square lines and earth tones, while I like bright colors, high contrast, rounded edges and texture. It’s been tricky, but it’s been fun and I’m trying to keep these things in mind when it comes to home projects and ask for his input, so we’re both happy.

I roughed out some sketches using MS Paint and ran them by him and surprisingly he was into the teal clock, which was one of my favorites.clocksSo I went out to the burbs to buy some glossy teal spray paint once it was warm enough to work outside and I was lucky enough to find a glossy white spray paint in our hobby closet. I also stopped by Joann’s to get a clock kit for $4.

Tip: Don’t ever buy anything at full price at major hobby stores. They all offer coupons ranging from 10%-50% off individual items and/or entire purchases if you sign up for their e-mail lists. Use them wisely. This will require doing a little math (ewww math**), but it’s worth it!

Once I had my clock kit I was able to figure out how big the whole at the center of my clock had to be and I got to use Nick’s power drill to make the hole myself!***OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe do all of our spray painting on our back porch (pros of renting from a landlord who doesn’t care much about what we do). I started out by taping a sheet of paper up to our back window to keep it as paint free as possible and got to work.

If you decide to make one of your own, be sure to coat evenly and let the paint dry between coats so you don’t get runny paint lines.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile I waited for the hubcap to dry, I took the numbers and hands out of my clock kit and spray painted them white, because gold it my least favorite metallic color. Besides, I wanted the numbers and hands to pop against the background. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce those were done I went over the hubcap a few more times making sure all of the nooks and crannies had proper paint coverage.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen the clock pieces alternated between the dining room and the hobby room, while I tried to find the time to finish them and finally, I got to them this past week!

Before gluing my numbers onto the hubcap, they needed some touching up. This is were having a partner who’s main hobby is painting miniatures came in handy.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used his file to get rid of excess plastic and the finger-pointing looking thing to scrape off excess paint.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI did all the numbers since I wasn’t sure whether I was going to use all of them or just some. After filing and scraping I touched them up using some white acrylic paint Nick had in his stash.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a quick lesson in proper painting technique when using a good brush I was good to go.

For those who are curious, here are the key things to remember when using fancy paint brushes:

  • Dip your brush in water in between each paint application and water your paint down a bit before you use it.
  • Use a paper towel to wipe excess water off before dipping in paint again.
  • Hold your brush like a pencil for better control.
  • Don’t let paint get on the metal part of the brush.
  • Don’t ever leave your brush standing in the jar of water or your bristles will get splayed out ruining the brush.
  • If you must leave your brush, rinse it and lay it down on the paper towel before leaving.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce my numbers were dry I learned how to use CA glue.

After playing around with the numbers for a bit, I decided to divide my clock in quarters since space was tight and then I laid my numbers down.

Once the glue was dry I added the clock mechanism and hands, a AA battery, set the time and voila! I now have a functioning clock.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s the greater picture. Please ignore the mess and chipped paint – our built-in needs some major work.

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* Thanks for the idea and the photo, Clare!

**Math is cool, I just have a love/hate relationship with fractions and percentages.

*** Woohoo, power tools!

Upcycling Doors Into Furniture: Step 2 – Table and Couch Assembly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the past few weeks, Nick and I have been building furniture from old doors and it all started because of the vintage brown door you see above; which Nick found in an alley a couple of years ago. It’s been living on our back porch ever since, waiting for the perfect project.

As I mentioned in my first post about this project, we acquired a few more doors via Craigslist and decided to turn them into a bench, a couch and an end table.

The first thing we built right after cutting our wood was the end table. I got to use a power drill for the first time and managed to break my first drill bit on the fifth hole (whoops!). Nick hovered while I drilled at first and the experience brought back tension-filled memories of my dad teaching me to drive in his car, so I asked him to give me space and he left me to my own devices. I felt bad about the drill bit, but I replaced it with a two-pack a couple of days later.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince we had to wait a couple of days to finish the table, due to a broken drill bit, Nick, re-evaluated how he was going to construct it. He decided to use dowels and wood glue in addition to the joint he put in to make it sturdier.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe joints were made from pieces of scrap wood that were drilled into the insides of the table legs and the underside of the table. They’re what I was working on when I broke the bit.

Here’s Nick gluing the leg in place before attaching it to the joint with some wood screws:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here’s the lovely, Ian MacKaynine, posing with the assembled table:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next thing we worked on was the couch, because we needed a place for the Baran’s to sit when they came to visit us last weekend!

We stood the doors up on their ends and Nick drilled holes and screwed the elbow joints in while I help the doors upright.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt wasn’t very sturdy with just the elbow joints, so we added some off-cuts from an old door along the joint in order to help stabilize it. Then we tipped the couch onto its back and attached the legs with some more elbow joints:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe carefully tipped it right side up and here’s the finished couch!:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext post will cover cushion construction and the bench, so stay tuned!

 

 

Throwback Thursday: The Unloved

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m notorious for pouring hours into making things for myself because they look cool in a magazine, wearing them once, deciding I don’t like them for some reason and then giving them away.

Here are a few of those things:

jumper

Completed: February 2, 2009

Project: Cabled Jumper from the now defunct Knit 1 Magazine.

What Went Wrong: Cute in theory, but so tight you could see the hem of my shirt through it and due to my body shape it would shift up as I walked, bunching around my waistline.

Lessons learned: I learned how to make cables, which is handy. I also learned that just because something looks nice on a model in a magazine doesn’t mean it will look nice on me or be functional.

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Completed: November 17, 2009

Project: Flouncy skirt from one of Interweave’s Knit Scene magazines.

What Went Wrong: I wasn’t a big fan of the stripes. Also I followed the pattern without measuring myself first and I didn’t check length along the way so it ended up being too short for me to wear comfortably.

Lessons learned: Steer clear of variegated yarns when it comes to large clothing items unless you really, really like stripes and/or surpises! Don’t bind-off on a skirt until you’re sure you’re comfortable with it’s length.

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Completed: February 27, 2011

Project: A crocheted A-line skirt; yet another item from Knit 1 Magazine.

What Went Wrong: The waistband ended up being loose and saggy. I also had no idea what I was doing when I installed the zipper. Out of all of these, this got worn the most, though, (3 times) with tops that covered the waistband issue.

Lessons Learned: Always remember knits stretch and modify patterns to your body size. Also unless you want a lot of frustration and a lumpy zipper, do not attempt to install a zipper on your own if you have no idea what you’re doing! That’s what YouTube is for.

 

Upcycling Doors Into Furniture: Step 1 – Planning and Cutting

For those who don’t know, I live with someone who loves to walk through alleys in the hopes of finding treasure. A lot of times what he brings home is trash IMHO, but every once in a while he brings something cool home. Something that sparks an idea.

Like this door!

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Initially we planned on replacing one of the doors in our apartment with this door. However, once we discovered that it was too tall for any of our doorways, we put it on the back porch knowing that someday we’d find a use for it.

Then along came Pinterest with it’s many pictures of re-purposed vintage doors, which sparked the idea of the door couch (our old couch was put out of it’s misery last year after the dogs mangled it). So the hunt for another vintage wooden door began.

These little rascals are why we can’t have anything nice for long.

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Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, they’re adorable cuddle bugs that I can’t stay mad at for long.

Anyway…after about a year of searching my local Craigslist and Freecycle off and on for doors, I finally hit the jackpot! Last weekend I bought three solid wooden doors off a girl for $10 a piece. Nick and I lugged them home and spent last weekend cutting them down into various pieces of furniture (a couch, a bench and an end table)!

Our first step before cutting was to draw plans for our various pieces of furniture. Nick measured our futon to get an idea of what measurements we wanted the couch to be and then together we measured and marked the wood before cutting.

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I’m still learning the basics of power tools and I find the table saw incredibly intimidating. I get anxious just by watching Nick cut things with it. So for now I’m content to assist with feeding the wood through and keeping an eye out for things that might possibly get Nick’s arm chopped off, like falling doors or Spike, our neighbor’s cat:

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Things to remember when using a table saw:

1) Measure and plan BEFORE you cut!

2) Make sure there aren’t any nails or other metal bits anywhere in the wood near where you’ll be cutting or you just might see sparks fly and worry about your limbs as the wood bucks. Bucking wood = uneven cuts = wobbly furniture  = FAIL

3) Clear the area of cats, dogs, large pieces of wood that might potentially fall on you and/or the saw if the wind were to pick up, etc.

4) Wear protective eye gear so you don’t get flying wood debris in your eyes, like I did. Note: I have since bought myself a pair of goggles for future projects.

5) A bandana or mask to keep you from inhaling the saw dust isn’t a bad idea either, ’cause pulling your t-shirt up over your mouth and nose isn’t very effective (trust me – I tried).

6) If you’re cutting a large piece of wood make sure to set up a table nearby to help support the wood, so you get an even cut, like you see below. We simply used Nick’s workbench with a couple of bricks and some scraps of wood we had lying around.

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We purposefully designed our door couch (below) to have no arm rests, so there are less places for the dogs to mangle when they get anxious. Two of the doors I got had a neat scallop to them, which gives them a bit of visual interest, which is why we decided to also make a bench and end table out of them. Unfortunately the two scalloped doors I got don’t match, so the ends of our couch won’t look exactly the same, but I think it will still look cool.

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After we cut each piece of wood we measured it again and/or tested our prototype to make sure everything was cut correctly and fit well together.

Here’s our bench prototype before assembly with an anxious, Ian, looking on:

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And here’s the top of our end table:

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I’m excited to see what our finished products looks like!!

Next up – assembly. I get to use a power drill!!

DIY Stamps and Zines!

You may have noticed a lack of posts around mid-March. That’s cause I was prepping for the 5th annual Chicago Zine Fest at Columbia College.

This year I made 2 zines. Second City Vegan, a vegan cook zine with recipes from the blog I’ve been doing for a few years (secondcityvegan.org) and the second issue of my perzine Rip It Up and Start Again (not pictured).

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I wanted to fill the white space under the banner with something so I came up with the idea of making stamps of kitchen images (a pizza cutter, a mixer and a knife). This was my first foray into making stamps and I was lucky enough to have Nick’s steady hands at my disposal. I drew the images for the stamps and he carved them for me. Next time I plan on carving them myself now that I’ve seen him do it. I also may update the mixer to make sure it includes the beaters, since we missed them somehow.

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I ended up selling out of both the 1st and 2nd issues of Rip It Up and Start Again at the fest, but I still have a few Second City Vegan zines which I will be putting on consignment over at Quimby’s later this week. I also ended up selling a bunch of my photo post cards!

Overall it was my most successful zine fest yet and I had a great time tabling and talking to folks about my zines and my photographs!

 

Throwback Thursday – Watkins Glen, NY

Last October Nick turned 40, so we packed the dogs up in the car, drove to Buffalo to pick up Nick’s family and spent a few days down in Watkins Glen, NY. We visited Farm Sanctuary; hung out together at the 3 bedroom house we rented that had a gigantic yard, which the dogs had a ton of fun running around in/exploring and we put together a giant puzzle. Here are some of the highlights from that trip.

 – Farm Sanctuary, Watkins Glen, NY – 

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Nick feeding the turkeys

Nick feeding the turkeys

Cabins for Farm Sanctuary's overnight guests

Cabins for Farm Sanctuary’s overnight guests

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– Puppies Running Free in Watkins Glen, NY –

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I <3 Fruits and Veggies

As a vegan, I love my fruits and veggies! So do my pups. Every time Ian and Harlow smell an orange or banana being peeled they come running. They’re our “helpers” when it comes to meal prep, because they eat all of those errant bits of veggies that end up on the floor.

To celebrate our house’s love of fruits and veggies, I started working on this dish towel last summer and I finally picked it up again in order to finish it this week. The adorable pattern is “I Luv Veggies” from Sublime Stitching and it was my first foray into embroidery beyond cross-stitch. You can tell by the messy apple center.

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That messiness worked well for the orange, though, because it gave it that textured feel that oranges have:

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The tomato is my first attempt at satin stitch – clearly I need some practice:

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And the garlic…well I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going fill in the garlic:

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Can’t wait ’til I’m done with it. So many half finished projects that need to be tackled!

Raglan Sleeve Top

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Two weeks ago I made my first blouse at the Raglan Sleeve Top class at The Needle Shop. It’s a bit boxy and not quite what I was expecting, but I learned some useful things in the class and am looking forward to tackling my next blouse. Besides, it’s not too bad if I throw a cardigan over it.

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(My minions were a little confused by my mini photo shoot and kept siting at my feet in the hopes of getting treats.)

The main thing I don’t like about the raglan sleeve top is the sleeve length, because it seems to compound the boxiness. I feel like it would look a little more flattering if the sleeves were a bit shorter, since in theory it would give the blouse a little more of a silhouette.

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It’s hard to tell without actually shortening the sleeves, but here’s a picture with the sleeves rolled up a bit:

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Still not great, but a little better. I may end up shortening the sleeves and/or trying it out tucked into a high waisted skirt. Otherwise, I know a cardigan will make it wearable for sure!

I do like the gathered neckline, though, because it gives the boxy shape a little bit of a feminine flare. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nick convinced me to go with a “safe” fabric choice for my first blouse, so that I might actually wear it (I have a track record of making things for myself and then giving them away because I don’t like them). The black fabric with white hash marks seemed safe enough and goes well with various things in my wardrobe.

This was my original fabric choice for the raglan sleeve top, but it’s now destined to become another blouse:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m torn between these three patterns (Sencha by Colette, Market Blouse by Lisette or Top 7051 by Burda).

Hmmm, decisions, decisions…

 

 

Getting Stitchy

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These embroidery frames came all the way from Australia this week!  Can’t wait to work on mini-embroidery. I have so many ideas and sketches and am excited about making cute jewelry!

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Now I have another easy and portable project to work on during my commute to and from work. While I waited patiently for the frames to arrive I continued to work on Ian and he now has the semblance of a nose!

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This weekend is going to be spent on zines and the rest of Ian’s nose since we’re supposed to get another 3-10 inches on Saturday and zine fest is now only 2 weeks away.