Matchstick Holders

I have matches all over my house. We are a candle, fire and incense kind of family. 
I buy those hardware store matches in the ugly box. I usually transfer them to a short glass, where they look much prettier.
I used an old l'occitane votive that I cleaned out.

I cut out the grit strip from the box and attached part of it to the bottom with double stick mounting tape. Sometimes I don't bother with this (or with getting the matches all going in the same direction because that's pretty anal, non?) These matches will strike pretty much anywhere (including my older son's front teeth -which to my horror, he recently demonstrated).

Stuff we are burning these days: Sage bouquet for clearing energy, cedar bricks, juniper bricks, and Japanese incense (also a cedar).

Peace. Out. :) 


Handmade Wooden Candle Sticks

I made some candlesticks recently.
I've been thinking about items I'd like to make to sell and these were my first candlestick prototypes, which was pretty instructive.

I started with an aged, scrap piece of douglas fir which I picked up for a song at a recycled building materials yard here in the city.

I used 3/4 inch copper sleeving (cut in half) to hold the candle and to act as a burn barrier for when the candle burns down very low (which seems to happen to me all the time). I played around with how high the copper should protrude. I then switched to 3/4 inch end caps, which looked more finished as they have a bottom.
Remember, the easiest, no-measure way to find the center of something for drilling is to draw an X from corner to corner.

This part of my process was very fast. I cross-cut a bunch of pieces, marked them and then drilled them on the drill press. After that I sanded the top end grain.

It was the painting process that took forever :/ which I will be rethinking for my next round.

I tried a variety of technique for painting. Some of these guys I painted freehand with no primer -I scribed a line with a razor as the guide line. Some I painted with tape and no primer and some I taped and sprayed. The whole point of using the recycled wood is to get a product that has patina so there was no other sanding involved except for the tops.

Theses are looking pretty Scandinavian, folk arty -especially against the christmas greenery. 
In this setting, they read a little differently. For sure the dark blue and black are less seasonal. I like them just as well without a candle in them.

All in all this was an enjoyable exercise. Next round I'm going to burn the graphics on.

Cheers and I'm always open to feedback, so do tell. 


Repurposed Containers

For a long, long, time, I have repurposed common household containers for storage vessels, especially for medicine cabinet storage. I find them so much more interesting to look at than the matchy matchy stuff from target or the container store.
Packaging design has come really far in the last decade or so, so it's easy to find nice containers from recycle candle boxes and jars and such. I am especially drawn to some old school products out there that have had beautiful packaging all along -this bag balm is one of them.
Ok, so what exactly is this shit and why do I have it seeing that I don't have a herd of cows I'm milking...?

This is a cyclist secret weapon. If you ride a lot of miles it helps with chafe. Let's be discrete and leave the description at that. Anyhoo, we had a tub of it that mysteriously lost its top and just sat like that for a good while. It seemed like the time to retire that goop.

Nice, right? Other favorites are Red Bear Copper Cleaner, Acqua di Parma orange tubes and there are some nice coffee tins still out there -especially non-American ones.


Quickie Project

For reasons I'd rather not go into, my phone took a swim in the tub this week which necessitated getting a new one. Not that I'm not happy with my new phone but the expense...OY. 
I like to put my phone inside a "sock" before I throw it in my bag which has my keys and change floating around in it. I had this fabric left over from my living room ORC redo.

This took less than 20 minutes. I leave the hems exposed and because I'm sewing with wool I go with the fraying and use it to my advantage. The sides are cut with pinking shears, but will eventually fray like the top. The stitch at the edge prevents the fabric from fraying down to nothing, like Weezer's sweater.


Working in the Garden

This past Friday, I spent some time cleaning up my garden a bit.
Some people don't care for yard work, but for me it is pure therapy.   I love every aspect of it -the immediate visible results, the workout, being outside and getting dirty. 

My first priority was to trim back this creeping fig. The suckers on this thing can be pretty damaging to wood over time so I try to keep mine confined to the concrete retaining wall under the wood fence. Also the jasmine vine above it had some wily offshoots that needed training and trimming.

Check out my neighbor's incredible cypress tree that is two yards over. That thing is so majestic and must predate every house on the block. It also attracts the wild parrots that are colonizing Sutro Forest which is just a few blocks west of where I live. The parrots are kind of loud and squawky but I find the fact that wild parrots now live in SF to be so exotic that I kind of like it. 

In case you're wondering why that fence looks so high, it is because it is! My house is on a slight hillside sloping in two directions and we wanted a flat walk-out yard, so the yard was excavated when we built the house.  Funnily, our neighbor has since done the same with his yard so that fence doesn't really need to be that high anymore, though still necessary because his grade is still about 5 ft higher than ours.
I also pruned back the row of trees at the rear there, which have really taken off in the last year. My long term goal for these trees is to shear them into a boxy hedge at their top, so I keep cutting them back to create bushiness.  

 Nice, right?

Ok, confession time: I almost killed that poor potato vine early in the summer with a clearly too extreme hack attack. I have only had potato vines thrive by cutting them back (ordinarily they love it) but obvs this one was too much as it is only now starting to recover. My guess is that the lack of water (I barely watered this summer because of the draught) and the drastic haircut were just to much  for it. Here is a glimpse of it from much healthier days.

Seems like the creeping fig is finally going to take off and fill in on that north wall. I hope it rains this winter because those things like a bit of water to grow and I'd love for that to finally friggin fill in!



I'm still undecided on this minor change up. I got the giraffe head marked down from 48 Bucks to 19.99$. It's from Anthropology.

This is my downstairs powder room. It's nearly impossible to photograph anything in here. No window. There are some other shots of it here, when I last tweaked it a bit.

My son Ethan made the paper wreath out of origami paper and right now it's tucked behind one of his drawings in there. I need to figure out if I can get that giraffe to wear the wreath like a crown, I'm thinking that would look right. 

Post update: 

Cell phone pic but you get the idea.


Repotting Plants

I did a little plant care yesterday, something I do a couple times a year.

Much to my surprise, this off-cut from my fiddle fig tree actually sprouted roots. I cut this guy off from my tree forever ago because it was really long and lanky. Clearly this guy really needs some dirt and a pot.

It's kind of hard to tell in this picture but my avocado tree is like the leaning Tower of Pisa. It's also perpetually droopy because I can't seem to water it enough. I'm changing it to a deeper more narrow pot which I hope will hold it upright better.

 Here it is a day later, with perkier leaves. 

I want the fiddle fig to really grow now. It's in a southern exposure room but away from the window. I'll see if that gives it enough juice, otherwise I'll move it.

 It does look a little like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree right now. :)


No School Monday

Since it was a no-school day, Kit and I took a foggy walk in the Marin Headlands.

It's a four mile loop which runs by this WWII cannon on which Kit loves to climb and run.

When we got home, we made a dye tub for some linen that I'm dying for a pillow project. I fill two spaghetti pots and bring them to a boil on the stovetop -which is probably the equivalent of 5 gallons of water. Pour in the tub, add one cup of salt and a squirt of liquid detergent. I dissolve the dye in a pyrex full of hot water and then dump it into the bath.

If I'm not dying a lot of fabric at one time, I don't pre-wet the fabric. 

This looks pretty dark. I left it in and stirred almost constantly for a half hour. After, I rinsed it with cold water in the bin for a couple cycles and then I washed it on hot with a temperature boost to fade it out a bit. It hasn't gone in the dryer yet so I can't yet report how it looks :)