Bigger & Better

Random image, totally unrelated to this post: We’ve had this Hellebore planted in our front yard for several years, but it bloomed for the very first time this month!

Just a quick note to roll out my brand, spankin’ new, bigger and better blog layout. Exciting, right??? I was happy with my previous template, but was often wishing I could post larger images. Well, I finally found a suitable template with a wider main column. Images will now be over 25% larger than before! The text is also a bit bigger, so it should be quite reader-friendly. Not surprisingly, I’d like to tweak a few elements of the template, but WordPress charges a fee to users who want to edit their CSS code. So, I guess I’ll just have to deal.

What you think? Do you like the change?


Missing In Action

I haven’t posted anything in quite a while. And by quite awhile, I mean
over five months
. I am so bad at this.

The last time I posted, I was wearing flip flops…

the Phillies still had a month left in their season…

and the roses in our back alley were more than just a memory.

Tonight it’s going down to 14ºF. Sigh.

Anyway, I actually have a few potential post ideas up my sleeves, so hopefully they’ll come to fruition soon. I’m also thinking about shaking things up by changing my page theme/layout.

Stay tuned, folks. Exciting things to come. Exciting things, indeed.

PTA On The Road: New Items

There’s something that I love about vintage maps…and with summer arriving, and thoughts drifting to traveling, I present a couple of new PTA projects that I’ve had in the works…

Going Places magnet set:

Cartographic symbols are overprinted on the actual pages of a 1969 Hungarian historical atlas, so each set is unique!

And a new series of greeting cards I’ve been calling Earthly Sentiments:

Red text overprinted on images of late nineteenth-century vintage world maps.

Each card comes with a red A7 (approx. 5 x 7) envelope by French Paper Co.

I’ve corrected the grammar since I took this picture

The new cards and magnets will make their debut at the Olivet Flea Market this Saturday (22nd & Mt. Vernon Sts., in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philly). I will also have my other magnet & pin sets, letter magnets & pins, and the remainder of my natural candles and other greeting cards…oh, yes, and my yummy granola, too! (Phew!)

And mark your calendars, I will be at the OCCCDA Flea Market on June 19th, as well!

Please come out and say hi!

Pimp Their Crib + Baby Grass

Just a quick post to share one of my recent projects.

Our friends, Curtis and Tiffany, who will be having a baby soon (and very soon), asked me to paint the walls of their nursery-to-be with a tall grass motif based on their crib/curtain set.

This is what we started with:

I transferred the design onto the walls with the help of an overhead projector. Tim came to help paint one day. We mixed up a few greens for some variety.

I took this picture with my phone, so I’d have proof that I’d actually done it.

After I finished the walls, the parents-to-be installed new bamboo flooring, shades (nice choice with the brown!), an area rug, pendant light, and a comfy glider/recliner. Nice job, guys!

I couldn’t resist including a picture of the family’s cat, Pepper.

Do not be fooled by her seemingly peaceful appearance. I put myself in harm’s way to get this shot. She is the queen of her castle, and ain’t nobody messin’ with that! Good luck, baby S.!


In a semi-related note, our sod out back seems to be establishing itself. Yay! Plus, I over seeded the area with some old grass seed we had in the shed, and some of it has been popping up as well. So, it seems we also have some of our own baby grass!

Baby Shower Mini Cupcakes

Just a quick hello to share a few images of the mini cupcakes I made this past weekend for a baby shower in honor of our friends’ coming little one.

“Shoup” is pronounced like “shout”, but with a “p” at the end.

I made the mint (green) icing especially for Tiffany, but also made some vanilla for the boring people — sorry Curtis! ;) Haha.

I’m glad they were a hit. Yay!

Side note: These are the first images I’ve posted so far taken with my new-to-me camera! I got it from a friend, who, fortunately for me, got an itch for the next best thing, and thus, gave me a great deal on his hardly-used camera. Thanks so much, Kirk!

You Decide.

Last weekend we made a leisurely “window shopping” visit to IKEA. At the end of the store, I quickly perused the seasonal furniture (our recent yard work has put me in that mode). I noticed a new outdoor dining chair that had yet to appear on the website, but I quickly passed it by as I rushed to join Tim in the checkout line. Now don’t get excited, all we bought was a pack of little felt pads for under chair-legs (whoopee!).

So anyway. Later, I was trying to find some information about a particular chair produced by Thonet in the fifties. During my search, I happened upon an image of a different Thonet chair that immediately brought to mind the one I’d seen at IKEA the day before. The s 40F, designed by Dutch architect and designer Mart Stam, originally appeared in the 1935 Thonet catalog. As a side note, according to Thonet Germany, Stam designed the first cantilevered chair in furniture history (the s 33, in 1926) predating Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe by several years. But apparently, this was a contended issue, with Breuer and Stam actually going to German court in a patent lawsuit, to settle the issue of who was the legal inventor of the basic cantilever chair design principle.

Either way, there’s no arguing that the Thonet s 40F came way before the IKEA Vinö. But just humor me here, and take a look at the two chairs:

s 40F by Mart Stam for Thonet, 1935

Description according to Thonet Germany website: “In all of his furniture designs Mart Stam relied on straightforward forms, an aesthetic economy of means in the construction and the benefit of improved sitting comfort.” The chair is “clear and reserved in form, with ideal sitting comfort and high quality with respect to materials and processing.”
In it’s current incarnation, the wooden strips are made of solid Iroko, a weather resistant, high-density African wood that has been Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. It is similar to teak in appearance and has a smooth, even surface. All wooden parts are oiled for protection.
Metal Frame:
weather-resistant tubular brushed stainless steel
609,00€ ($820.00) from in Germany

Vinö by Niels Gammelgaard for IKEA, 2010

Description according to the IKEA website: “A comfortable chair that gives. Body-contoured back for great comfort. Stackable. Saves space when not in use.”
Solid acacia, a durable hardwood, highly suitable for outdoor use. Pre-treated with oil. Not certified as responsibly managed, but IKEA claims they are working towards that goal.
Metal Frame:
Steel with silver powder coating

The influence is obvious. Not that I’m surprised. IKEA often riffs off more famous designs. When I first saw the Vinö, I thought it was okay, but now that I’ve seen what it’s supposed to look like, it seems a bit…how should I say…lacking. But then again, fourteen IKEA versions can be bought for the price of one Thonet chair. Does the IKEA Vinö’s lack of grace, awkward armrest supports, and almost-certain lack of comfort (earth to IKEA: people do NOT have flat butts!) make it one-fourteenth the chair? Or does it’s affordability make up for it’s shortcomings? Most people wouldn’t have the luxury of choosing between the two, so does it even matter?

That’s something only you, your wallet, and your buttocks can decide.
Talk amongst yourselves.

photo via Thonet Germany

Back Yard = Work-In-Progress

Since the weather has been warm recently, and our thoughts are returning to gardening and outdoor projects, I thought I would get the internets up-to-date on our back yard progress previous to this year. That way, I have a starting point from which to post further updates…

Okay, so the spring before we moved in, the backyard looked like this:

(April ’06 – Concrete patio and yard overrun with strawberry plants.)

Being the wannabe farmer that Tim is, come spring, his first priority was to put in a couple of raised beds to grow vegetables. At the time, we had not yet come up with a plan for the overall space, so he put them where it made the most sense at the time. Later, I drew up a plan (several, actually, that have been morphing over time). And since then, we’ve been working towards that goal in bits and pieces, as we’ve had the time and resources.

(April ’08 – Original placement of two raised beds.)

After the raised beds were in, we made a bed of gravel along the back of the house, where we put a small, but much-needed, shed for tool storage. Sidenote: We compromised on a plastic one. Yes, I know Tim could have built a wooden one – and one that would have been more aesthetically pleasing – but it was a matter of expeditiousness and money. We also put in a herringbone brick path to the shed. I love herringbone brick (especially with moss growing in the cracks)!

(July ’08 – Shed on gravel bed with brick path and three
‘Mocha’ Choral Bells. We got that plant in the metal container for really cheap, but unfortunately, it has not survived.)

The adjacent concrete slab patio was not very pretty, and had a stepped down area which was basically a waste of space. So, Tim installed decking over the slab. Extending boards across the entire 12′ x 12′ space effectively increased our usable patio area by a good thirty-percent or so (I don’t know the percentage, I just made that up). Then, Tim tore down the chain link gate at the front of the yard, and built a horizontal wood fence along the left side. The portion along the back of the yard was built last summer. Hopefully, this year, we can get the front part, including gate, done so Moxie can finally roam the yard off-leash!

(October ’08 – Deck and fencing along left side of yard. We planted two types of decorative grass there, but because of the grape arbor, they are not getting enough sun.)

During this process, we’ve had several ideas that have been adjusted along the way. For example, the original placement of the raised beds on the left side of the yard, was based on the assumption that we were going to keep the two small apple trees that were on the right side of the yard when we moved in. Soon enough, we realized that the few (5?) apples they produced would be eaten by squirrels even before they got a chance to ripen! Needless to say, I didn’t feel bad about giving the “go” to cut them down. This allowed us to move the second veggie bed to the right side of the yard, opening up the space between the two beds. My first thought was that we could put a tiny fish pond in the center. But then we adopted Moxie, and I figured that probably wasn’t the best idea. We also had grand ideas for hardscaping around and between the beds, using bluestone squares and pea gravel, but dallied on that because of the costs.

(March ’09 – After the apple trees were cut down and the rightmost veggie bed was moved. Before, the back portion of chainlink was removed and wood fencing built. My dad got the random broken slate steppers for free, but there wasn’t enough to go around both beds, so we moved them to the front yard last fall.)

This is now our fourth (!!!) spring in our home, and I have decided to scale back our grand plan, so we can just get this thing done already! I don’t want another year of messy and unattractive dirt, mud, and weeds around the raised beds. We need something low-maintenance and simple. Therefore, I’ve decided we’ll plant a patch of sod in the center area, and put small wood chips/mulch around the beds. Not as pretty as bluestone, but it works.

So, this is the latest incarnation of the back yard plan, to give you a bird’s eye view (click here to see it a bit larger):

We hope to get the grass (sod) and mulch portion done over the next few weekends (weather permitting!).

After that, the remaining steps are to:
1.    build a compost bin out of scrap wood
2.    transplant Japanese Blood Grass currently on the left side of the yard to
the area behind the grass patch (not enough sun in current location)
3.    purchase and plant Sky Pencil Holly in river stone strip on left side
(where Japanese Blood Grass was), if money allows
4.    build front portion of the fence and gate
5.    build right side of fence??? (Neighbor already has solid wood fence. This would just be for aesthetics)

Can Tim and Vicki actually get this done?
Or will they run out of steam and money along the way?
Stay tuned to find out!
Same Bat-time, same Bat-station!