April 7, 2016

New Faucet!

The things-to-fix-around-the-house list keep getting smaller and smaller! Recently, we replaced our master bathroom toilet and faucet, both of which dated from 1953! And both of which were only just now starting to function imperfectly! So, in all seriousness - well done making durable things, 1950s America. Color us impressed. This is what this faucet to end all faucets looked like (basically, your standard two-handled dealie):

We replaced it with this Delta faucet. I decided to go with Delta because we replaced our kitchen faucet with a Delta a couple of years ago and haven't had any issues.

My only caveat about buying faucets is to watch out for the ones from Lowes or Home Depot - they carry same brand/same model name ones that have plastic instead of metal/ceramic parts, so while they are seductively cheaper, you're getting an inferior product.

I love how it immediately modernizes our whole sink! Amazing.

This was a pretty fun weekend project. And by "pretty fun" I mean that we decided ahead of time that would be ok to throw in the towel if we needed to - which is probably why we didn't end up throwing any towels at all! We did however run into the same issue we faced when replacing the kitchen sink. Namely: that the nut holding the faucet in place was frozen and immovable. In both cases, we ended up using our Dremel (we have just this very basic one and it is fine for most things) to saw it off:

Except this time, we got to the "well, might as well saw it off" decision within 10 minutes of not being able to shift the nut, whereas our kitchen was a two-day sink nut battle royale. We're learnding!

March 18, 2016

Desk Air Plants

After visiting a friend's lovely house, Mr. Forty-two Roads came home raving about her use of glass terraria and suspended greenery. Ever since then, he's been really into the idea of replicating this somewhere in our house. But... our house has two rather rambunctious children, whose main response to dangling glass orbs would be to smash into them while running around. The out of the way solution? Our bedroom office nook, which now features this lovely hanging tableau:

These plants are two different kinds of Tillandsia, which just need a daily spritz of water to thrive. They are hanging from curtain rod hooks, which seem perfectly designed to hold a suspended weight.

I did research knots to find a particularly sturdy one, ending up tying twine into double figure 8 knots on both ends. This knot is strong and useful for not putting undue strain on a rope while anchoring it.

February 28, 2016

DIY Shade for a Wall Sconce

Recently, I decided to make a list of all the little annoying things in our house that have been bothering me. Instead of being irritated by them each time I saw them, why not simply tackle one every few days or so? It sounds so basic when I write it here, but for some reason the concept of a project-to-do-small-projects has eluded me until now. But suddenly, instead of internally grumbling to myself about entropy and everything falling apart, I can just add a line item to the list! And just like that - clarity. It's not that "everything is falling apart" - it's that this one panel in this one door has a crack that can easily be caulked.

Project #1 was to add a shade to the bare-bulb sconce that is on our first floor landing. The light is in a great place, and does some heavy duty illumination in our living room, so the shade had to be as translucent as possible. I also wanted to get as far away from the original shade as possible (the sconce started with a very dark orange glass shade that was hideous and that one day fell and broke into a million billion pieces).

My first thought was Amazon - but no dice. The market for half-shades that are held on by the bulb is scant, apparently. It was time to improvise! I used some 13-gauge wire to create a basic frame and the circle that would fit onto the socket.

The shade itself? This IKEA placemat, strategically wrapped around the frame and secured with a few wire twists.

So now we have a reasonably sculptural shade that hides the bulb without compromising light quality.

Here is a schematic for the wire frame. The light blue squiggles are the places where I used a very thin wire to secure the heavier wire either to itself, or to the middle socket-holder piece.

Of course, there's also the option to spray paint the whole thing a bright color. Maybe one day, when it ends back up on the "things bothering me" list!

February 26, 2016

Reverse Applique!

I may be just very slightly extremely into the beautifully embroidered hand-sewn clothes made by the folks at Alabama Chanin. Their designs are detailed without being fussy, ornate but still casual. In an alternate life, I'm wearing that stuff head to toe every day.

In this life, though, I decided to try my own quick version of one of their oft-used techniques: reverse applique. So, two boring shirts (one gray and white stripes, one dark blue) become one:

This effect relies on the non-raveling nature of knit fabric, and is achieved by first embroidering the outlines of a design into two layers of jersey, and then cutting the top layer away to reveal the one underneath.

I used embroidery floss at half thickness (meaning, I separated the six strands into three and three) and sewed a backfilled running stitch around a design I drew freehand with a super thin marker.

Were I following the Chanin technique to the letter, I would have painted my stencil with fabric paint first, which would have remained as an outline next to the embroidery. But I didn't have any fabric paint on hand and just wanted to play.

February 17, 2016

Happy, Happy Birthday!

My favorite person ever turns a year older today! You deserve all the happy things because you make our lives better, funnier, and more loving every single day. I love you!

The kids and I planned and strategized for the last two weeks, present-wise, to stick to my "handmade is good only in so far as it is high quality" ideal. I think we succeeded!

Jake's natural drawing tendencies seemed to a perfect match for string art.

There were numerous sketches of dragons, castles, and flames before we ended up with the perfect composition. I stained the wood block, but Jake did most of the nails and string himself, with a super helpful assist from his sister...

... who was no slouch herself in the art department, painting a super cute collage and mounting it onto a piece of birch.

I feel like she could open up her own Etsy store tomorrow.

Happy birthday!