DIY Textile Footstool

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When we moved into our current place, we found that the layout of our living room didn’t really cater to the clunky leather ottoman we had. So we started searching for a new one for our space over the course of a few months. As it goes, we always managed to find something that didn’t work with the ones we saw – some were too short, some were too round and some were the wrong color. Finally, we decided it would be neat to make something totally unique ourselves. So, we came up with a design of our own, then went to the hardware store and bought some wood, brass screws and dowel rods. After that we combed through fabric at our local fabric store and found a heavy weight African textile fabric we liked. We assembled it at home in a couple of hours. The ottoman isn’t clunky at all and can even be folded up and stored under the couch when not being used (bonus!). I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was easy and a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Here’s how you can make one of your own…

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Holiday Woodland Origami

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Origami is such a cool art form that often gets overlooked. It comes with a certain degree of patience and commitment. It’s intricate, delicate. Each step must be mastered successfully before progressing, each fold creased meticulously until finally a 3D shape emerges in the palm of your hands. 

There’s this used bookstore down the street. They have this section outside that’s discounted, with books lamented as throw-aways in a box labeled $.99. Most of the books have yellowed pages, discolored from age and exposure to the elements over time. Something about taking something old and discarded and turning it into something new and revitalized always feels somewhat right, so I bought one of the books. Over the last few nights we made woodland creatures – bears, foxes and hares, as well as balloons, cranes, little presents, and a star made up of several smaller pieces from the pages of the book. Then we threaded some sparkly twine through them and put them on the tree. Jack helped (then later he helped knock the tree over and felt so bad about it he put himself in the corner).

DIY Copper Kitchen Rail

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I was at the hardware store the other day and saw some cool copper piping in the plumbing section. I’d been really feeling copper lately, especially in the kitchen, so I got one of the pipes cut down, brought it home, and made this little rail to hold utensils on in our kitchen. It was simple to make and looks pretty sweet up there, if I do say so myself.

Here’s what you’ll need:

18″ of 1/2″ copper piping

2  1/2″ copper plated tube straps

4  1/2″ 45 degree copper elbows

4  1″ phillips-head screws

Copper “S” hooks

A level

Drill

Here’s how:

Determine the length of piping you need for your space. I chose 18″ since our space was relatively small. I had someone at the hardware store cut down a larger piece of piping since they only came in lengths longer than what I needed. Once you have your desired length of copper pipe, connect two of the copper elbows to each side of the piping, creating a “Z” like shape on each end. This is so your pipe will stick out from the wall about 1/2” and allowing you to hang your “S” hooks on the pipe. Once you’ve connected the elbows, add one tube strap to each end. Using a level, hold the rail to the wall and draw a line where your screws need to be in order for it to be straight on the wall. Then, using a drill, secure the pipe to the wall with the phillips-head screws. I chose silver because I liked the difference in the metals, but copper screws would look good too. If you’re planning on hanging pots, I recommend using anchors to make sure your rail can support the weight. You can also add gorilla glue to the inside of the elbows before connecting them in order to add strength to your rail. Once you’ve put up your rail, add the copper “S” hooks (I used these), and you’re ready to hang your utensils! Good luck!

A DIY Tripod Lamp

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The other day we dug an old surveyor’s tripod out of storage. We had picked it up a few years back from a Stanford grad student selling it on Craigslist. We loved the chipped old paint and wood and rustic hardware, and knew when we had more space we’d make it into a lamp. This past weekend we went to the hardware store in our neighborhood and bought an easy-to-assemble lamp kit and a large drum shade. I really like how it turned out, and the story behind it we get to tell. I’m a sucker for pieces that have a history. Now if I only knew what to name it…  My grandma used to tell me that if you give something a name you’re more likely to take good care of it. e.g also pictured: Blade the plant I strapped into the backseat of our car coming across the country, and Charlie the chesterfield couch whom I only met this past weekend but things are progressing nicely.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Surveyors tripod – Craigslist is riddled with them

Lamp kit – this is the one we used

Large lamp shade

Light bulb
Phillip’s head screw driver
Using the lamp kit is really straight forward and only requires a Phillip’s head screw driver to assemble. Depending on the size of your tripod and your personal preference, the lamp shade size and shape can vary. I chose to go with a large, 17″ diameter, 11″ height drum (not tapered) shade, that can be found here.

diy grapefruit bird feeder

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Over the weekend we made some bird feeders for our back yard using grapefruits. Florida has some of the most beautiful birds ever. My favorites are the large wood storks, herons, roseate spoonbills, and sandhill cranes. I became interested in birds when I was a naturalist off the California coast leading whale watching trips to the Farallon islands (dubbed California’s “Galapagos” for the rich biodiversity there). Someone would point to a tufted puffin or a common murre off the port side and ask “what’s that?” which led me to read every field guide and bird paper I could get my hands on to become a local expert on them. I was basically a wildlife nerd to begin with, but becoming a “birder”…is like, the upper echelon of wildlife nerdism.

I am excited to see what small birds will be attracted to this little feeder. After hanging it up in our backyard we pulled some fresh basil from the garden and strained the leftover grapefruit flesh to make grapefruit gimlets…recipe below..

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a Botanical Jack

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Let me start by saying I know how this looks. It looks like I’m either a crazy dog person (I kind of am), a hippie (a little of that too), or a 6 year old playing dress up with my dog (jokes on you, I’m 28). Sometimes I get these ideas in my brain like “It’s Sunday, I’m going to make a collar for Jack out of wildflowers…because he will LOVE that.” Ideas that a normal person would think for ~5 seconds, dismiss, and go about their day.. but I actually execute because I’m that girl, whatever that means.

I took a woven leather belt I had laying around and stuck some pink bougainvilleas, periwinkles, and red carnations through the spaces, then wrapped it loosely around Jack. Jack is the king of wearing things around his neck. When you take his bandana out of the drawer, he prances over all excitedly. We joke that we’re knighting him every time we put it on him because of the way he sits with his chest out and head held high like he’s honored you’ve chosen him to wear it. Bow ties also, for special occasions. So yeah…if you were wondering what flowers + dog look like…here it is. You’re welcome.

Optional: discovering your wildflower plan is foiled and getting yelled at for picking flowers in the grocery store parking lot. Oh well, like Alanis says.. you live, you learn.

Strawberry summer salad

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Salads have been my go-to lately. Trey’s been in San Francisco for the past week and it has taken every ounce of willpower inside of me not to eat oatmeal for dinner every night.
The thing with salad is that it has to be interesting for me to want to eat it. Otherwise, it feels like I’m a horse chewing cud. My favorite types of salad are generally the ones where fruit is involved, and summer is the best time to capitalize on that with all the best fruits being in season. You’ve got your blueberries and peaches, and your strawberries and watermelons and even mangos and papayas…the possibilities are endless! (she says with crazy eyes)…
This is a salad I’ve really come to enjoy. Little buddy was looking cute so he helped too. Hope you like!
SPINACH + STRAWBERRY SUMMER SALAD
What you’ll need:
1 carton of strawberries, washed
chopped walnuts
1 package plain goat cheese (crumbles are better than the super soft kind)
1 bag spinach (or more depending on how many mouths you’re feeding)
salt & pepper
balsamic vinaigrette (Annies Naturals is really yummy)
You can also add grilled chicken or slice up an avocado to put on top if you’re feeling rebellious. Let cool in the fridge, serve and EAT!

DIY INDIGO Beach Sheet

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This weekend we experimented with shibori, the art of shaped resist dyeing to create our own indigo beach sheet. The process involved folding, binding and compressing a bed sheet, then dipping it into a vat of indigo dye. On Sunday we went to Venice beach to collect shark teeth and our new sheet served as the perfect place for us to rest in between trips to the ocean.

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