Thursday, March 31, 2016

Omi's Cabinet

So - this is a view of my kitchen rarely seen. The fridge is on the left. 
I inherited this cabinet from my grandmother, my Omi. There were twins, this one and another, although I think the other had two doors and no drawers. My sister has the twin. The top half should have sliding glass panels, which I believe I still have, but which are sort of a nuisance in a kitchen.
Somewhere in the move from Germany - to Southern California  - and then to Philadelphia, some things got lost. Shelves, primarily. 
Even in my recollection of this cabinet being in my "mother's room" (ie. the one we three slept in while visiting our grandparents) it had two more shelves than I posses now.
 The above mess has existed for almost 8 years, since I moved everything in. And I am tired of it. What a waste of space!
Part of my impetus to go to the West Philly Tool Library last weekend for the workshop was also to pick up a table saw in order to replace the shelves in Omi's cabinet.
Home Depot provided the sanded 2'x4'. And after cutting it to size (with the saw I checked out from the Tool Library), I decided to forgo to the traditional polyurethaning. Since I have so much decorated paper - I decided to simply cover the boards with decorative paper. The pink/purple paper I purchased at Artist & Craftsman, while the green is paste paper I made myself.
 Yay for organization!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Weekend

Happy Easter everyone! 
Sadly it was a very gloomy Easter Sunday here in Philadelphia. But, look there is a Johnny-Jump-Up in my garden! Thank you birds! (most likely). I don't think I've ever spread these seeds. If I did, they are far too old to bloom this year.  This little guy is more than welcome and I hope he spreads all over the place. 

Yesterday I took a Wooden Window Restoration Workshop at the West Philly Tool Library. I can not tell you how fortunate I feel to have this organization in my neighborhood. As some of you long time readers will remember, back in ought eleven, I started to strip the bay window on the first floor. Details can be found here: first post about stripping the windows.
Suffice to say there came a point where I was stuck. Like, really stuck.
 I'd been stripping all of the stuff, only to realize I also had to strip the wood of the sashes.  - Well how exactly do you do that!!!???
It didn't make sense to do it in situ because I couldn't get all of it anyway. So over the next 5 years, I would strip a little, think - I should take this apart - but what if I ruin it?-  and then give up.  Because deep down, I knew I had to take the entire window situation apart but I didn't know how. Not to mention that I figured it would be a ton of work.
Well, I was right on all accounts.
The first thing the instructor said was, Wooden windows were built to be fixed. Ha! Fantastic! Tell me how!
Within two hours, he had! 
I know how to strip the paint efficiently (with a heat gun).
I know how to cut glass. 
I know how to glaze the windows. 
I know how to use the putty and putty knife. 
And most importantly, I know what these things are for!
 Those are glazier's points. 
For some reason those fly around in my tool box. And I've had no idea why or what they are for (or even where they came from). Those things are pushed into the wood of the frame to keep the glass in place after the first layer of putty as been applied.
And finally, I understand how the weight works for the window. I'm supposed to be careful about the "coil" when I remove the sash.  
Otherwise, I'm supposed to just nail the chain in. It should be a surprise when I finally remove the actual sashes.  
The windows on the first floor are mostly original. The second and third floors have all been replaced. And now thanks to this workshop, after six years of stalling, I know how to proceed.
 I was hoping to show you some progress on my own project after taking this workshop, but alas, my morning bike ride proved what my 2am allergy fit already suspected, every single tree in Philadelphia that can bloom, has bloomed. I have allergy mush-for-brains. 
I spent the afternoon in the garden cleaning, which doesn't require too many brains. When fall comes, we pretty much abandon our gardens and allow nature to take its course. Here in the spring, we realize we heed to hop-to and clean things up before that's not exactly possible. Today I pulled some unproductive forsythias and generally raked debris from the winter. Yesterday I trimmed the front hedge. This coming week I have resolved I need to do a lot more general cleaning and some seed planting. 
Since most of this post is rather boring and non-picturesque, I'll leave you with Swee'pea's highlight of the week:
His new box du jour. He was thrilled mommy ordered something big enough for him to nestle in.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Easy as 1, 2, 3

Another DIY Christmas gift has been fulfilled...

Part 1:
Co-worker Erin gave us a wonderful gift for Christmas. Large scans of the covering paper of Violet Oakley's sketchbooks.

This last pattern comes from this sketch book:

 Where the actual sketchbook comes from, we have no idea. Ms. Oakley purchased sketchbooks worldwide.
Just to be sure you appreciate Ms. Oakley's talent, images from this particular sketch book:

Just who is Violet Oakley? Her wikipedia page can be found here: although it does not do her justice. Ms. Oakley was the first woman to receive public mural commission in the US - ca. 1911.  The murals still exist on the Pennsylvania State House walls. But she accomplished many other projects as well, more than I can enumerate in this post. My place of employment cares for more than 100 of her sketch books. Her paintings can be found in prominent institutions such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as PAFA (Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art, where she both studied and taught - take your pick of articles in the link). But sadly, she has has been forgotten as one of the great American Artists. Even though she deserves a seat next to artists such as Mary Cassatt, who also had Philadelphia connections.
My place of employment hired Erin to rehouse the collection and perform minor conservation treatments as needed. Erin did an admirable job and now all of Ms. Oakley's sketchbooks as well as other drawings and her artists books are available for research.

Part 2:
Last Spring I had an "intern". I say "intern" because she didn't fulfill the hours needed to fulfill an internship - but not for lack of trying. It was unpaid and she had a concurrent paid position and being a reasonable person I absolutely understand that when push comes to shove, a student has to go with the paid position! In the end the karma bank paid me a dividend. The intern told me of something she was doing in the paid position I'd never heard of...printing patterns with inkjet directly onto book cloth! I. could. not. believe. it. How simple!
Of course - I had to try it.

Part 3: how the first two come together. 
I used Erin's wonderful gift to print a piece of book cloth.

The perfect project for the cloth took a while to materialize. Then, I had to teach a specific binding to interns and this was the perfect covering material. They liked it as well so I printed more at work on the brown cloth. 
We love the spines. 
 Anybody need a writing journal?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Ultimate Love/Hate relationship

Daylight savings time began this week.
This is always so difficult for me. Springing forward doesn't work with my biological clock. Because despite the fact that the "civilized world" has decided to change time, my REM sleep never gets the memo. It always takes at least a week if not more to get used to things. Waking up in the middle of my dreams is not ideal.
And I'm not the only one who has trouble. On Monday when I got home at the "right" time, the Cats had not received the memo either. When I walked in the front door, there were two very confused kitties blinking at me from the couch. I clearly was home much too early and it took a few minutes for them to believe it was true. But as soon as the coin dropped for Jacques that this also meant he could go out sooner - the confusion vanished.

The perks of time change though, well - here in the North East - they are a good incentive to acceptance. I get to come home and have enough daylight to do significant gardening.   
It is clean-up time. The weather feels like it is ready to stay spring which means gardens need to be prepared. On Sunday I significantly pruned the front rose and got rid of a lot of dead wood. Today I decided to clean the beds of old debris and leaves. I also finally decided to get rid of the chains around some of the growths on my property. According to the Els, one of the former owners decided everyone was going to steal her plants. So she wrapped chains around them. I found them all over the place. Until now - I just left them. Why? I didn't have anything to cut them with. Then today I thought I should ask Mr. El if he had bolt cutters I could borrow. Well of course he does! And he loaned them to me immediately. He even knew what I was talking about and said if I found anymore, I should just let him know and he'd come cut them for me.
Cleanup has revealed some of the duds in the garden. Here are a bunch of dud-daffodils.  Of this entire bunch there were only two blooms! Time for them all to go. I am starting to wonder if the daffodils I purchase at Home Depot aren't somehow GMO engineered to be done blooming after a few years. 'Cause in nature the daffodils should bloom for years and years.

The back section of daffodils has had no problem blooming this year. I'm pretty sure I fertilized them quite seriously last year though. Note to self: keep a close eye on this section for the next few years and see how the blooms progress (or not).
Another benefit of daylight savings time is that I can do a load of laundry when I get home and it might actually dry before it gets dark!

While this is not significant laundry, it is airplane cotton for work, none-the-less it is nice to be able to plop it into the wash and have it dry before dark in an evening.

Jacques of course, thoroughly approves of the daylight savings time. 
Not only does he get to spend more time outside in the daylight, but the possibility that Staff will also be out with him is quite high. This of course makes cats happy.

The garlic is growing in leaps and bounds. It is almost 8inches tall. 
And then I found some beautiful things: 
 Chinese lanterns tossed into the garden to re-seed in the new year, had perforated to a skeleton.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring Sputtered

We had an incredibly gorgeous week last week. Wednesday it was almost 80°F! The crocuses and daffodils exploded but as of today the crocuses have been rained out. The daffodils probably still have a week or so. 

Jacques clearly has spring fever. He wants in, out, in, out, in, out... all weekend long. 
I finally finished Aunt Alice's socks!
They have been mailed off, and in spite of my best intentions to document these better, I just didn't.  

I tried to knit two at a time, but just couldn't get the hang of it. 
 It felt more annoying than productive so after about two inches I gave up. The "after-thought" heel was an interesting construction. It makes it easier to knit the entire heel (rather than having to knit and purl) but I had to take the first one out because the sock was too small. Maybe if I do more I'll get the hang of it.

The weekend a week ago -  I accidentally yanked a drawer of 10pt type out of the cabinet a little too forcefully and dumped the entire contents on the floor. Ugh. It was a very full drawer. I spent most of Friday and Saturday just sorting all that type back into the case. Bor-ing! Thank goodness for Netflix and all of the great '90's movies. That kept me from going a little bonkers. 

Remember the limes Uncle Ralph sent me? I finally had some time on Sunday to make lime marmalade. 

I found a new recipe online that was too good to be true. Slice all the limes and soak in the same amount of water overnight. The recipe says to use the same amount of sugar as you have of the lime water. That seemed excessive. 11 cups of lime water and 11 cups of sugar? No way.

I used half the amount of sugar. It tasted divine! I cooked it up - canned it and went to bed. But guess what?  It didn't jell.
 So I opened all the jars back up, dumped it all back into the pot and pulled out the good old reliable Pomona Pectin "specially formulated for low sugar jams and jelly."
And boy is it reliable! Co-worker Charissa made scones and we feasted. Then I realized the jam tastes really good on graham crackers too. 

This weekend, aside from enjoying the beautiful weather, I caught the crochet bug. I wanted to try all kinds of things out. Mostly I'm trying to figure out how to make a cute "t-shirt." I'm finding lots of almost-perfect patterns. But I don't want almost-perfect, I want just plain perfect.
In the meantime, I'm going to keep practicing and experimenting. It's fun and it keeps my hands busy.