Category Archives: Hand Crafted

Portland … It’s all true.

Hey guys – happy Friday!  In theory both JT and I are off on Fridays thanks to our 4-10 schedule but I have a project that waits until Friday to need me.  The joy.  Oh well, what do you do?  Relive an earlier vacation?  Okay!

So we had never been anywhere in the Pacific Northwest before and we decided that early August would be a perfect time to escape the desert and break up the looooong summer we get here in Phoenix.  We landed at PDX (with the new carpet, boo) and learned that everything you’ve ever heard about Portland is true.

I’ll just give you a quick, non-linear recap because we saw and did and drank so much on our trip that there’s not enough internet or pictures to really go through it all.  So.


Nature – they have that in spades.  Everything was SO GREEN!  We mainly stayed downtown but on the last day we rented a car and drove out to see some of the sights.


They have nature in town too – we visited the (free) International Rose Test Garden as it was in full bloom.  Amazing.  Roses for miles and they all have a slightly different scent but I thought the overall base smell was kind of lemon-y.  We lucked out and got the most beautiful weather while we were vacationing.  It was sunny and a little hot (not Phoenix hot) during the day and cool and perfect in the evening.


Beer.  Portland is the micro-brewery capital of the world or something. We visited a few places – Deschutes, Widmer Brothers (did the brewery tour) and McMenamins (the one in the Pearl District).


We did AirBnB for our lodgings and while we had a little hiccup at the beginning, it worked out okay and was a great location and view – we were in a historic building on the 8th floor near Madison and 6th Avenue downtown.  The photo below on the left is a view from the balcony looking west-ish and the other photo is JT after a grueling afternoon beer tasting – that’s hard work.  We loved the space, especially all the plants.  It was a little urban jungle and we slept with those doors open every night.  It let in all the awesome cool fresh air and the yells from the hobos fighting.  (Portland has A LOT of homeless people.)


The apartment was within walking distance of a few metro stops and especially close to the Art Museum.  We saw the Ai Weiwei exhibit that is now set to open in Phoenix in about a month.  The space they used in Portland was well suited to the installation, I might have to check it out here as well to compare.


What else?  Shopping – did that.  Everything was delightfully Portland-esque, made of real wood or leather and artisanally handcrafted by a hipster and displayed on a live edge tree slice.  We visited Powell’s Books twice and got nice and lost.  I also had my first visit to a brick and mortar Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams store only to learn they are soon opening one in Scottsdale.


We saw a lot of the iconic Portland things (besides the hipsters, but they were everywhere).  There is a convenience chain called the “Plaid Pantry” – awesome.  We stumbled under the “Portlandia” statue on our way home from too much dining and drinking one night (see blurry night photo below).  We visited the food shacks (like food trucks but not actually driveable) a few too many times and the “Wolf + Bear” one below was quintessential Portland down to the font of the sign.  While there we saw a guy riding a unicycle playing the bagpipe and wearing a Darth Vader helmet – all in the name of keeping Portland weird.


We partied with the liberals at a free Bernie Sanders rally (There was more beer there too) and rode the metro back over one of Portland’s many bridges.
BERNIEWe dined and dined – visiting Clyde Common in the Ace Hotel and taking in a Portland sunset at Departures on the top of the Meiers + Frank building.


They had the best Asian noodle dish there (it was a pasta strand that was as thick as my pinky with a good spicy sauce on it) and a separate “special” menu just for vegans.  It was hard to pick when I had a whole menu to peruse!


We rode the tram, we walked around some more, drank lots of coffee and we took it all in.  Portland was amazing – beautiful and hand crafted and full of beer.  Four days wasn’t enough but we crammed a lot in.  We plan on going back to visit the Oregon countryside and all of the wineries.  Cheers to (maybe) next summer!  CT

P.S. – JT also has a post coming up today about one of his guitar projects and his online “Thompson Guitar and Thrift” store.  This has been a way better option for him than the crazy fees of eBay and maybe we’re one step closer to a brick and mortar “Thompson Guitar and Thrift” …. I’d better start on my estate sale-ing and Goodwill searching so I can be ready to keep up with him!


Back with a banging backdrop!

Hey everyone!  The wedding of 2013 (my sister’s!) was last Saturday and I’M BACK!!!!!

So, I teased you guys a little while ago that I was trying to make this:


And . . . I did!  But in purple and green (of course):


Yep, the only picture I could find (thanks to my cousin’s husband via Facebook.)  Since there were two photographers following our every move, I didn’t break out a camera once.  Hopefully I will have some better pictures I can share with the interwebs once my sister gets back from her honeymoon (Cozumel!) and meets with the photog. (Also, the backdrop was pretty tall but that’s my youngest cousin back there who is also the tallest person I know.  So I think it looks a little smaller in the pictures than it really is.  And those are a bunch (not all!) of my cousins and of course my sister in the other purple dress.  Aren’t we a handsome bunch!)

So here’s how it went down, with bad iPhone pictures for illustration.

1.  We picked out five different fabrics – one dark green, one light green, one dark purple, another light purple and a final one in solid purple.  I cut them down to various widths ranging from 30″ wide down to 12″.


2. Spray with fabric stiffener (I used 3 bottles total of Alene’s Stiffen Quick to make all these).  Spray again and again.  Then iron into zig zags and glue closed after throwing a few stitches in the very middle to hold it all together.  (I went back to Alene and used her fabric glue pen – super fast and quick).


3. Repeat over and over. I think I ended up with ten fabric fans and one didn’t make it onto the final product (good to have some back-up, just-in-case stuff).


4. Sweet talk husband into making you the world’s largest easel.  Paint the easel white.  Staple gun fabric to it.  Staple gun pieces of metal hanger to it and sew your fabric fan to it so it will stand up straight.  Spray everything down with the rest of your fabric stiffener and pray for a miracle.


4. Make easel legs easily dissassemble-able (we used threaded screws and nuts) for transport.  Rip the rest of the fabric into long ribbon strips.  Bring extra everything – thread, glue, stiffen spray, double stick tape, staple gun and cross all your fingers that the dang thing will stay together at least as long as the ceremony.

5. Sister gets married.  Backdrop stays together.  Everyone is happy!


(This picture is from before the ceremony at a little park nearby.)

So that’s what I got.  Everything went off without a hitch – except for the intended one! (thanks Jess for the joke)  I’m so happy for my sister and also so jealous she is on vacation right now!  What’s been going on with you guys?  I feel like I was gone forever!!!  I have some more wedding fun stuff to share and then it’s off to the races with some house projects.  Cheers – CT

Super Bowling.

What did you during the “Big Game”?  Watch the commercials and cheer for the Murder Birds?  JT and I decided to build some shelves! (This is the normal activity during sporting events, right?)  I set the plan in motion by picking out a bunch of lumber and once we dragged it home, it seemed best to just go ahead and put it together right away since otherwise it would be still junking up the music room.


We got the plans/idea from Ana White (originally found via Young House Love), carpenter extraordinaire and we used the living room as our workshop.


The dogs cowered in front of the TV while we worked.


We’re not really a sports house, so we sawed and glued, clamped and drilled during the game and paused for the commercials.  I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the familiar curly grey locks of Wayne Coyne early on in the broadcast.  See the commercial on YouTube here. 


{Image via Google Images from here}

I immediately imagined the hipster revolt to follow.  “The Flaming Lips sold out!” they will cry.  Here’s my take: with the sad state of current music being marketed like lunch lady slop to the masses, if the Flaming Lips go quote unquote “mainstream”, isn’t that a good thing?  Wouldn’t this signal a return to good taste – to true artistic expression and not contrived trite designed to sell records?  And while, by definition, the Lips did “sell out” by allowing their song to be used in a commercial that is selling a car, this clip is pure Flaming Lips.  Robots, confetti, inflatable hamster-wheel balls, galactic travelers . . . methinks the Lips had complete artistic control if not a huge say in this video.

I listen to Pandora at work occasionally and they have a really well-written bio of the Flaming Lips — my favorite part is the beginning: “Even within the eclectic world of alternative rock, few bands were so brave, so frequently brilliant, and so deliciously weird as the Flaming Lips.”  {Jason Ankeny, Rovi}  So even though we didn’t have a team in the “Big Game” race, I still feel like we won.

(And more pictures when we get these shelves sanded, primed, painted and hung.   We originally got enough lumber to make three but one of the 1x4s was  so warped that we didn’t end up fabricating the third shelf.  These ledges are destined for the new music “listening station” I’m creating in the living room.

Cheers – CT

Only a few more hours of work left . . .

And then a nice four day weekend!  Filled with tofurkey! 

You don’t eat tofurkey?  You’re probably not missing out.  Even though Turkey Day is impending, I seem to have other holidays on the mind . . .

With the help of my trusty sewing machine, some thread (I’ve done both lime green and dark gray),  a 1″ hole punch and some left-over paper I  trimmed off a presentation at work, we have garland.  (There have been a lot of good documentaries on PBS lately — the garland has given me a way to get in a little TV fix while still getting something done.  Husband hasn’t complained about having to watch the TV on loud to compensate for the whir of the sewing machine.  Yet.)  I’m kind of ready to get this non-turkey eating day over with and on to hanging up my miles and miles of garland!

As we race towards the end of 2012, I’ve been trying to get going on the “big change-up” I so carelessly promised my loyal readers (all five! I love you guys!)

So the other night I spent pushing around all the larger furniture items in the house on towels.  Good times.  Right now it’s still craziness so no photos (and it is PITCH BLACK when I get home from work and pretty dark when I leave in the morning too.  Boo.  And not good for photo taking.)

Here’s where things are headed:

The dressers will eventually be making a big exit and making room for some more changes . . . .

What else.  I know you guys like my “furniture funnies”.  I got this email today.

Yeah. What they said. . . . (Don’t you want to meet the person who had to sew a turkey costume for a chair?)

Have a good one guys!

Stitch ‘n Bitch, Round 2

You guys, I am vying for the title of most worthless photographer-blogger.  I’m horrible.  I get all awkward about photographing all of life’s little moments.  I furtively snap horrible pictures when I hope people aren’t looking.  I make bizarre Vanna White hand motions when the camera is turned on me.  I come from a non-photogenic family.  We tried so many family portrait sessions that would have maybe 1.5-2 good pictures.  So I apologize for any and all awkward, bizarre and/or missing pictures on this blog.  I continue to try to overcome this shortcoming with wordiness so as not to shortchange any of my very precious readers.  I like to think I do have more of an advantage there, having one won a fifth grade extemporaneous essay contest.  (I still have the thesaurus/prize to prove it!)  Thesaurus in hand, let me tell you a story about Stitch ‘n Bitch #2.  As in, the fun day when my design-school friends come over, we drink sangria and complain about our jobs while working on some sort of project.  It’s amazing and the best therapy a designer can ever get.

My intended project was this dress:

I love the pattern and it was only $15 from Marshalls.  However, although I do wear dresses quite a bit, it wasn’t working for me and I had never worn it.  It’s been hanging out in my closet for a while now, waiting for a new life as a blouse.  Then my brilliant designer friends convinced me to add elastic to the bottom . . . .which I did not have on hand  . . . . cue “wah wah wah” noise.  No real project from me.  I did finally zig-zag stitch serge around the edge of my Mother’s Day tablecloth though . . . (so now I can wash it, yippee).

Miss K brough wine glasses and chalkboard paint and got to work for an upcoming event (that is a SURPRISE, so if you know what event I may be referring to, lips ZIPPERED!)  With a chalkboard pen, guests will be able to write their name and/or wine type on the foot of their wine glass.  It looks like it will take another coat to get these finished up and maybe she will update us with some photos of them finished and/or in use!

Miss E also was thinking of wine, but wine for hoosiers (and not the Indiana variety).  One part glass candlestick, one part  Mason jar combined with some glass adhesive and voila — wine for the country part of your heart!

Besides the Hooseois  (imagine Hoosier + Bourgeois) wine glasses, Miss E had also found the recipe to creat a mercury glass effect on anything glass or ceramic and old and ugly from Goodwill.  That’s awesome because we all know there are tons of things that have uglied out, waiting for a new life at Goodwill.

There’s a tutorial here (and a bunch more all over the interwebs).  Basically it involves misting a solution of vinegar and water onto your object, letting it bead up and then applying a “Mirror Glass” spray paint.  The linked tutorial is a little simpler as you don’t have to paint the inside of the object.  Miss E started out with some more mason jars . ..

And also hit some Goodwill once-floral lamps.  I can’t wait until she send me the after pictures of those with some awesome shades!

Since I didn’t really have a project to speak of, Miss E handed over the looking glass spray paint and I did some work of a vase of my own I had hoarded in the basement.  Cue the weird Vanna hand here:

I’ll definitely have to do an update post on this as I need to finish off the vase and I need after pictures from the other Stitch ‘n Bitchers.  I did a little hunting around St. Louis to find some more of the Krylon looking glass spray paint and found it at Wal-Mart for $8.50 and the Kirkwood Hobby Lobby for $13.  It’s smaller than a regular can of spray paint but still fit my handy-dandy spray handle.  I might just give the mercury glass treatment to everything glass or ceramic that I can get my hands on!

Also Miss K brought a new plant for my plant collection . . . he needs a name!  Or maybe it could be my first lady-plant.

Miss E made the world’s most awesome sangria and shared the recipe with me.  Because I love you, I’m sharing it with you.  White Strawberry-Lemon Sangria.  Something to savor in this summer heat.  Cheers – CT

Transmute is the new tweak

You guys, I was getting really sick of the word “tweak.”  We use it at work ALL THE TIME because as designers, nothing is ever quite right and we’re always searching for those little adjustments (tweaks) to get a project further along.  I’ve been using that word a lot here on the blog as well to describe all the little adjustments I am continually and perpetually making to our home. 

So, more little adjustments . . . remember way back in January when I started this sisal crochet wonder?  Probably not because that was above 4 months ago.

At  any rate, I finished up the sisal crochet to make a little pot snuggie for the ZZ plant, George.  Or Zappa.  We call him different things.

Before George/Zappa was just hanging out in a standard issue green pot  and once we brought Hans and Wenger, the new chairs, home, he now has a floor light (can uplight from cb2) behind him to light the easel from below since we took off the clip light that used to be above. 

And now he has a fancy new coat.  I “dipped” the bottom in black paint to help it stand off the wood floor.  The sisal made it a little hard to get the color in there evenly but overall I am happy with how it turned out.  The whole skein of sisal was $13 at Home Depot and I didn’t even use half of it . . .  so maybe more (dipped) pots are in my future?  Maybe I’ll finish another in 5 months . . .

In other plant adjustments, the plant we originally put in the Bullet Planter was sad.

So sad that I didn’t even take a picture of it before I took it out.  (Not to fear, I put him in a little blue ceramic pot and I’m going to take him to work for some healing time.  Is that the dog equivalent of going to live on the farm?)  But picture it with about four and a half leaves thanks to Sophie Machete Tail.

Yep, that one.

But she also does an angelic face, so it’s hard to be so mad at her.  And also the reason she is usually wielding her machete tail is because we’re home and she’s so happy to see us . . . so she’s forgiven.

But we had to replant the Bullet with something that could survive the Sophie. A succulent garden planter at Home Depot caught my eye because it had a nice variety and was a good scale to survive the tail.

And, because all the plants seem to have names, I named them Larry, Curly (the little “curly” guy in front), Moe and Shemp.

Any more tweaks?  I mean adjustments?  Don’t worry, if there are, I’ll be back with all the details.  Have a great rest of the week, everyone.  We’re almost to a long weekend.  There’s a lot of plans and a little renovation going on . . .

Kitchen Tweaking

Hi everyone!  (Yes, all five of you, my loyal readers!)  I’ve been a busy little bee and have a bunch of little projects to share . . . so we’ll get right to it. 

The kitchen.  It used to look like this at one point.

And then it looked like this:

Much better, but still not done.  There was some pesky things bothering me — the open space above the storage rail for one.  For two, how the base cabinets were still just a little too light grey.  And for three, the red toaster that I kept hiding away whenever I took pictures because it was a hanger-on from a red kitchen in our first apartment.

So base cabinet painting began, toaster-ordering happened (I’m an avid Amazoner) and I searched around for something to hang above our storage rail.  Because of the Mother’s Day Brunch-a-palooza, I was in more of a hurry to find artwork then I usually would be. So I decided to just create some rather than waiting for that just perfect thing to jump out and hit me on the head  . . . . 

I dipped into my trusty mat board stash downstairs and cut two pieces to the same size.  I pulled out the wall paint color and mixed up a few others and voila, artwork.  It’s extra amateur, but it will help fill the space as a placeholder.

I also dipped into my trusty “T” collection and found two waiting for a good home.  One was a cheap silver painted color and the other was a brassy thing that had arrived from Urban Outfitters all scratched.  To the backyard spray booth they went and both came back a nice white.   I did my trusty templating to find a good placement . . .

And kitchen tweaking!

There’s more projects to come . . . there was also a flea market at Kenrick Plaza/Antique Mall last weekend.

Great weather, full parking lot and . . . I didn’t really bring anything home. 

I almost brought home this little dog, Paige, from Open Door Animal Sanctuary for my mom.  She’s a five-year-old schnauzer-maltese rescue and was very calm and sweet.   I resisted a pair of vintage wood slat bar stool things that I kind of am regretting not purchasing now.  Oh well.  Onward and upward.  More projects soon!

Mother’s Day – another day to bring brunch back!

For my 2012 resolutions, I had given myself a goal of “bringing brunch back”.  Now that our kitchen is mostly/kind of/all the way done, it seemed like a great time to host a Mother’s Day Brunch. 

Both JT and I’s mothers and siblings gathered together yesterday for la Fete de la Mere.  There was food and relaxation for all.  We had a coffee crunch right before the guests were to arrive (e.g. it was missing and we needed coffee STAT)  so I didn’t snap any pictures before nor did I want to trouble our guests and break up the flow of the little gathering so I didn’t snap any “durings” either.  But I do have a few “afters” to share:

What’s Mother’s Day without a banner?

Or “MOMOMOMOMOM” napkin rings (I just printed them out on our home printer, cut them down and used some double stick tape.  The green napkins I snagged at Ikea.  See the new stove in the background (#3)– it’s amazing and we love it).

And no brunch is complete without chocolate covered bacon . . . (so I’ve heard, I don’t actually eat bacon . . . )

I had some canvas left over from a deconstructed slip cover so I zig-zag stitched some blue and black lines on it to make a tablecloth at the last minute (if I would have had more time and some white thread, I probably would have serged the edges but for now it has a little more rustic look. . . .

So that was the most of it.  Food and family makes for a nice weekend.  Plus we didn’t have to leave our house!  I hope everyone had a great weekend as well.  Cheers – CT

The last of our Green Shag goodies . . .

As promised, one of our other “picks” from Green Shag market is guitar-related:

Amongst JT’s dizzying array of guitars, can you pick out the new (old) stand?    The previous stand was a little tech-y and JT was always having to pack it up to take with him to gigs.  Now this new sculptural beauty can stay put in the music room (although the back leg does fold in for transport).

Better yet, it can also hold acoustic guitars which the old stand couldn’t handle.

(Not pictured with an acoustic guitar though — for the most part his Gibson lives in its case with its humidifier . . . )

We also found a bundle of old teacher’s aids posters.  They were all 18×24 or larger and really affordably priced for larger scale artwork.

There was a spot in the music room needing some art.  There are actually a lot of spots in our house needing some art, but let’s start with this spot.  For most of our time in this house, we were displaying our diplomas here:

But college graduation is fast becoming a memory and I need the frames for some artwork in the KITCHEN so down them came.

I didn’t have a large frame for our new poster and wasn’t really willing to spend any amount of $ on it.  I had some mat board down in the basement so I measured out the interior opening I would need, brushed on a few coats of black acrylic craft paint and jerry-rigged together a hanging mechanism out of some painter’s tape and a piece of leather cord.

Ta da, artwork!  (Or back of artwork, at any rate . . . )

The back says this “Specimens of original 19th-century American wood type.  From American Wood Type by Rob Roy Kelly.  Copyright 1969 by Litton Educational Publishing Inc.  Courtesy of Rob Roy Kelly and Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York.    Then it goes on to detail educational facts about typography and the interplay of negative and positive shapes.  That’s a lot of words to retype.  We’re more worried about what it looks like in the music room, right?

And I like that it’s music related (ish?)  Can anyone else see the word “Hum” or is this just one of those Magic Seeing Eye posters with a different label on the back . . .  The blue walls seem to color shift a little in each picture I take in there . . . just like the KITCHEN!   Pictures of that next post!

Pillows (Really? Pillows? Yes, pillows)

I haven’t been around in my digital form lately, tending the blog.  Maybe because it’s because I’ve been too busy sewing pillows.  Well, yes and other things that are too boring to go into here.  So.  Pillows.

My straight line sewing skills continue to develop . . . At this point I think I’ve mastered the envelope back pillow.  I had some peace sign fabric I bought on a whim at Anatols hanging around my craft room.  Paired with some tweed-y fabric I picked up a Garden Ridge that at one point was destined for a project chair in the basement, I turned out a trio of “peace, man” pillows.

(There are two of the 20×20 peace pillows, they just don’t both fit in the rocker.  And if it don’t fit in the rocker, it don’t make it into the picture!)

Another pillow project was the test pillows for the white canvas I want to use for the Danish Daybed Sofas.  (That are still in the garage — and the foam that I was considering reusing STILL stinks to high heaven.  I don’t know that these CoMo owners did to it to make it hold on to such an aroma . . . ).  The idea for these pillows is to have Shenanigan lay on them a whole lot, to see how they weather such doggy abuse.  I’m sure he will be happy to comply.   But I also thought if I was going to the trouble of making some pillows, I ought to make them a little more interesting than just plain white canvas.  

So I drew a connected chevron pattern on them with black permanent fabric marker.  I was considering strategically coloring in some of the shapes but wasn’t able to decide on color/placement/yada yada yada so I finally just sewed  ’em up.

They’re real classy — I only bought one yard of the test fabric, so they don’t really close all the way without the help of some safety pins. . . .

Let the testing begin!

Shenanigan was the first volunteer . . . . then Sophie hopped up there too . . .

She doesn’t have this compulsion to be on TOP of the pillows like Shenanigan does though, she’s content to just be near them  . . .

That was where I left them this morning and it’s probably where they are right now.  It’s a dog’s life all right!