A Cook Island Pine

Happy new plant to me. We bought this Cook Island pine from Flora Grubb a few weekends ago.

(What I thought were) Norfolk pines have been on my radar for a while, I guess because I saw some nice potted ones around the holidays and thought I'd like one for the house, not just for christmas, but year round. Apparently what most people assume are Norfolk pines are actually Cook pines. But whatever. I think it's a cool looking plant, and a happy departure from the ubiquitous Fiddle Fig tree, IMHO.

This plant should be pretty happy in this location as long as I can keep up with the watering. It's a bright southern exposure but not in the direct rays. Apparently they don't like dry soil.

The main tree is about 8 feet tall. It has some baby trees growing at the base that I want to eventually prune out. For some reason I'm chicken to lop them all off right now. I did take this little guy off to propagate as a test. If it roots easily, I'll be super psyched.

You might also notice that I've reworked that corner of my living room yet again. I'll post about those changes soon.


Awesome Street Score

A few weeks ago, my son Ethan came home with this street find. Yes, I have a seventeen year old who actually checks out and scoops up good street finds -I guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

It was kind of in sad shape -especially the shade but I really liked it. This thing is 44" tall in total. The shade itself is 28" high. It's textured ceramic, with nice teak detailing at the foot and neck. On dating it, I am a little thrown. To me the scrolling and texturing makes me think the design is pushing up against the seventies but the detailing on the shade reads earlier sixties to me. If anyone knows more specifically, I'd love to hear.

 It was filthy.

I cleaned it up with soap and water, a toothbrush and paper towels. I tested first to make sure this wasn't going to remove any of the glaze.

The shade...OY. It was the best part of the lamp and had to be saved.

The paper tape holding in the frame/harp in place was badly deteriorated so I very carefully removed it. 

I vacuumed the shade on the lowest setting possible, to pull dust from the fabric.

The cracking in the plastic form under the burlap was mostly at the very top of the shade where the frame attached so I first ran a strip of white gaffers tape around the top and then reattached the shade frame/harp using the same white gaffers tape on top of that. 

I used shortened strips of tape in order to get the pieces to mold around the wire and attach to the shade in the best way possible.

This shade casts a very pleasant light. It is very warm despite throwing off a good amount of wattage because the bulb is tucked way up in there. I realize that I have a bunch of lamps with shades that don't cast the nicest of light that I'd like to remedy.

Yay. How awesome is a street find that you'd have bought anyway if you'd had the opportunity.


Ants, and Lots of Them

There was a time when I had a breezy attitude about ants. Now it's different. I hate these little fuckers because they've taken over my house. They come out from the baseboards, colonize my houseplants, live in the drains in the sinks and tubs. They crawl around on my side tables, appear on my computer screen and have even made their way into my bed. The only place they have not invaded is the kitchen. Go figure.

They are argentinian ants. My yard is full of them. I think the whole hillside behind me is a giant fucking ant farm.  

I am using Orange Guard and Borax (of the 20 Mule Team variety) to combat them. Borax is 100% Sodium tetraborate -a natural mineral which is also what those liquid Terro traps are made of. I used them by the dozen in my yard. 

I could probably wipe them all out with some Monsanto syle poison but I'm not into using those types of products in my home. Anyone got some other remedies they've used? 

Please. Tell. I'm about to lose my sanity. 


Life is a Beach

We go to the beach a lot -usually both days of the weekend. San Francisco has great beaches. If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you've seen a lot of scenes from the beach and know how I love it so.  

If you're new here, let me fill you in. We often go to Ocean Beach or OB, which is the long, wide beach at western end of the Outer Sunset. It takes about 10 minutes for  us to get there from our house by car.

We used to just walk and play with the dog at the beach but over the summer, Kit started to want to swim when we went. It started with some major wading, which turned into full on swimming.

The water is cold so we outfitted him with a wetsuit and Oliver always goes in with him. In the winter, however, the waves can be too big for him to swim there even with Oliver there at his side. The currents can be vicious and the waves really big and heavy. This was the case this weekend because we had a storm. 

So when that happens we go to Crissy Field, which is in the bay and just inside of the Golden Gate Bridge. Here the waves are usually nonexistent. They're were some small ones there this weekend because of the stormy weather. 

We hit Crissy between some rain storms and hence the incredible rainbow.

Sometimes we make the trek over the bridge to Stinson Beach, to swim there. This beach also usually has smaller waves than OB and has a very gradual slope which makes it fun to play in.

Huge tide, as you can see by the tide line and I mean, just look at that sky...

We even go in the fog, which has its own beauty. This picture is from a couple of weekends ago.

Same day, as the fog was lifting. Such fun, right?


Taking Time to Get Organized

I have been making an effort to purge and organize lately, a little bit each day.
Yesterday I tackled Kit's room. 

I sorted through all his toys and clothing. There were a lot of toys in some of the bottom bins that were literally gathering dust. I had been holding onto some toys that Kit wasn't very interested in. Also mixed into those bins were a lot of broken parts and pieces of toys long past so it was definitely time to go through it all. As for the clothing, he is growing super fast, so I did a quick sweep of stuff he's outgrown. Anything that is in decent shape, I will donate.

I also rearranged his bins a little bit so that the things he likes are easier for him to see and get to. 

The aerobatics that go on in here would impress anyone. We made that trapeze two years ago and that swing we've had up since move in day.

These shelves hold some really awesome materials from when I homeschooled Kit that needed some reorganizing and dusting. When Kit is out of school for extended breaks, we bust them out and do all sorts of visual perception, phonics and sorting tasks that he finds satisfying.

Like the rest of the house, his room needs a fresh paint job but it does have a very nice vibe right now, even with the visible spackle patches. Everything that is in here now gets used and is essential, which is where I'm trying to get in most of the rooms in my house. 

The big daunting room in need of a purge is, or course, the garage but that is another story altogether!


Trashing House Plants

Is it possible to divide a fern without killing it? We shall see.

 I've had this big momma for like 10 years and it's gotten too big. 

It was starting to remind me of this (source), and a fern bar. Not familiar with that term? Check out the brutally perfect summary here.

Anyhoo, I took that eighties badboy outside and sliced it up. This thing was dry, no wonder it had those brown leaves. It was also pretty rooted.

Now I have four to scatter around the house -if they survive the hack attack. 


The Ever-Changing Cabinet

This cabinet got a facelift over the past week. 

This chest once belonged to my maternal grandparents and I think dates from the 60's. It is best classified as "american colonial" and my grandparents must have been hugely fond of that look. I'm only vaguely aware of how this happened, but my family inherited a large amount of this stuff from my grandparents in the eighties when they were downsizing. There were several sets, a full bedroom set with twin beds, side tables, dressers and matching mirror, and a full dining room set, which included this chest (which once had an even more heinous hutch that sat on top). Yes, truth told, I am not very fond of this piece and have held on to it only for sentimental reasons.

Originally it was reddish, stained maple. It was white for a time when it served as my older guys changing table. Then I painted it magenta and it lived in the boys' bath prior to that bath's redo.

Recently it took the place of the danish piece (which moved downstairs) in the upstairs hall. 

I had a gallon of Benjamin Moore Bavarian Forest from an earlier painting scheme so I though why not, right? 

First I de-glossed with a liquid deglosser. Then I primed with a tinted water based primer. I went with two coats of paint after that in an eggshell finish. 

I do think that the cabinet is vastly improved with a new color. So what's my problem with this cabinet? I mean, it is well built and pretty innocuous. It is good for storage.  It's made of solid stock hardwood, which is far better than anything made from Ikea or pottery barn these days -most of their case goods are made up of composite materials which don't last and aren't great environmentally speaking.

The overlay drawer bugs me, and so do the clunky arched panels on the doors. I also don't like the overlay hinges -a butt hinge would look so much better.  

Its main, main problem though, is that it is a faux antique. I know that I could find something that was legitimately old and cool that maybe needed some restoration for very little money at Urban Ore (sort of like this beauty for 75 buckeroos).

Oh cabinet, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Anyone got the same problem?


More Candlesticks

Hey, I made some more candlesticks. They are four inches tall and, like my previous batch, made from salvaged douglas fir. The design is burnt on and they have a flush copper sleeve where the candle sits.