Monday, August 31, 2009

Unexpected beauty - the vestibule moth

Hundreds of people marched in and out of our building vestibule, but my sharp-eyed husband was the one to spot this tiny green moth on glass. We blocked traffic to each take a photo.

He's probably stoned on the chilly air. Low 60s this morning.

Friday, August 28, 2009

An excuse to post a picture of clouds

"Maybe it's important to make a distinction between what gets called materialism and what real materialism might be. By materialistic we usually mean one who engages in craving, hoarding, collecting, accumulating with an eye to stockpiling wealth or status.

"There might be another kind of materialism that is simply a deep pleasure in materials, in the gleam of water as well as silver, the sparkle of dew as well as diamonds, an enthusiasm for the peonies that will crumple in a week as well as the painting of peonies that will last.

"This passion for the tangible may not be so possessive, since the pleasure is so widely available, much of it is ephemeral, and some of it is cheap, or as free as clouds."

Rebecca Solnit, Inside Out

Not sure exactly what she's saying but think I agree.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer salad and the happy corn song

Yesterday, as I made my way through the cafeteria line and piled two, three, four ears of corn on my tray, I found myself singing, "Corn is great. Corn makes me happy. Happy happy happy hap-peeee."

Unfortunately, I was flanked by Koreans, who don't get as excited about corn on the cob as a Midwesterner does. And I was singing out loud.

One of my favorite things to do with hap-peeee corn is to slice off the extra into a salad, into which I also dump beets, blue cheese, sometimes sunflower seeds, fresh herbs, raisins, mozzarella or bits of chicken. Then I spend the next thirty minutes chewing.

Happy happy happpeeee.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

DIY Wednesday: Lace frame jewelry holder

One of the great things about blogging is that it creates a permanent digital record of your words, which provides previously unimaginable opportunities to eat them later.

Awhile back I said that one should never give a craft project as a gift. Just a few weeks ago, I said DIY Wednesday would never have projects involving lace. Yum yum. Aren't those words tasty.

Today's project is made out of lace and I'm giving it to a 14 -year-old as a gift. Before you roll your eyes, this project is officially cool because it was swiped from Urban Outfitters.

I was on the hunt for a gift for a middle-school graduation party (Yes, we have those here. Also parties for graduating from pre-K, K, grade school and high school.) The graduate in question loves jewelry. I though a jewelry tree or this clever Sepia Lace Frame Jewelry Holder shown above would be just the ticket. But the thing was $38 - on sale - at our local Brooklyn Urban Outfitters. (Addendum: It's now down to $19.99 from its original price of $48.)

Here is how to make your own for under $5. Mine cost me absolutely nothing to make.

First you will need a small picture frame. An empty frame would be great since the glass and matting aren't needed anyway. I came across this particular frame a week after my trip to Urban Outfitters for free but you could probably pick up something similar at a garage sale or thrift store for a dollar or two.

Next I found a fakey polyester lace jacket, which was perfect since the lace was sturdy and stiff. Find one at a thrift store and don't pay more than $3 for it.

Cut a rectangle of lace to fit inside the back of your frame.

Optional: Soak the lace in a mix of glue and water and allow to dry to give extra stiffness.

Using superglue or a glue gun, glue the lace along one short edge of your frame and allow to dry completely. You may want to reinforce your glued edge with a strip of thin cardboard (such as from an old greeting card.)

Pulling the lace taut, glue the opposite short edge and hold edge until it dries.

Glue the remaining two edges.

I don't recommend using staples since they can cause your frame to splinter and your lace to stretch, and your project will then require an intervention by the more handy member of your household who will then want his wages in homemade ice cream.

But he did a nice job.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tomato love

Aren't ugly tomatoes beautiful? Ugliness - a sure sign they came out of the ground, not some hydroponics lab. Chubby, bumpy, dimpled, misshapen and retaining water - looks bad on you, looks great on them.

In this great city, you can get organic pizza delivered to you in Central Park. But you cannot get a decent tomato. Farmer's Markets don't cut it. They weigh out tomatoes like gold bullion.

Tomatoes should be purchased from the side of the road in a paper sack and cost no more than $3 for the whole bag. Or they should come from your elderly friend Ruby in Long Island, as these were.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Saturday stoop shopping

Saturday I walked out of my building intending to buy a spool of thread (amazingly hard to find around here) and came back with (no exaggeration) a garbage bag full of stuff.

My first stop was the urban cultural phenomenon known as the stoop sale. This is what you do in place of a garage sale when your living space is smaller than most American garages. Generally I find Brooklyn stoop sales to be high on price and low on inventory, but this one caught my eye primarily because of the Ghost chair.

Alas, the Ghost chair was not for sale (it belonged to the building lobby.) But I did pick up four packages of West Elm hanging capiz shell strands for $1 a piece. (Retail value $80) I have no use for shell strands but I've been kicking around the idea of a DIY capiz pendant light.

Even better than a stoop sale is a stoop giveaway. One block later, I ran into a free magazine, vase and random set of silver letters. I picked up the G, E and N and moved on.

Next stop was the Housing Works thrift store, which had an influx of odd-looking stuff from Home Goods, some of which I swear was marked up from Home Goods prices.

However, I did pick up this lampshade for $5. (The ticket said $63). I finally found the perfect match for the lamp I picked up for free about five years ago.

I also got this shade for $2. It's beat up but who can pass up a cheap drum shade? Tom reminded me that the last time I tried to recover a lampshade I ended up with glue on my toes. Long story.

And the thread? Never got it. The Variety Mart closes at noon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dreaming of Moroccan lanterns

Punched tin lanterns at Le Tanjia restaurant in Morocco. Photos by Vicki Shultz via Design Amour. They retail at about 600 euros, which is about a million dollars.

I'm trying to figure out a DIY version. I mostly posted this now so as to have something other than a voyeur squirrel to feature for Hooked on Houses' Friday blog party. In the meantime, there's this at World Market for $30 for the big one.

Also dreaming about this

Between the limp hair and the killer fungus, the humidity around here has got to stop.

See what is about to shoot out of my head here.

Helloooo there

Cute, right?

Here she is one minute before staring into my bedroom window. Thank goodness we were decent.

Adorable little pest.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

DIY Wednesday: Suzani pillow from napkins

This week's post is an example of what bloggers call link love and regular people call stealing.

Betsy over at The Estate of Things took Suzani-motif napkins from World Market and stitched them together into these awesome throw pillows. Personally, I am having a Uzbeki-Moroccan moment and could use some affordable spangles and swirls in my life.

I wanted to turn this post into value-added thievery by finding other cool napkins from other stores that could be used for a similar project, but World Market has the best napkins, at least as far as an online selection goes. You could go with the Amber Suzani colors. Or take the Far Eastern route with the Tree of Life pattern.

Or you could just buy a pillow. The linen one below is $24.99 and the last one is only $14.99. At that price you could cut them up and make them into napkins.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bromeliad Living makes

Many thanks to, one of my favorite cheapster sites, for the shout-out to Bromeliad Living, specifically my ode to the IKEA Lack side table. is a great source for news and bargains around Brooklyn but also has plenty of journalism relevent to readers outside of Kings County - like How to Make Money on Etsy and a fascinating piece on couch surfing - the practice of allowing a total stranger to crash on your couch instead of in a hotel in exchange for the opportunity to do the same yourself some day.

$30 lamps at Pier 1

Lots more at Unfortunately, no dimensions are given on the website, so you'll probably have to stop in to make a judgment.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rent a car for $10 a day

You're all ready to buy 12 discounted Lack tables from the Red Hook IKEA when you realize you have no car to haul them home in. For only slightly more than the cost of one iconic side table, you can actually rent a car in New York City.

The Alamo sale is good until August 25, but the deal is buried on the web site. Follow this Alamo link for the good stuff. At this price, you might consider driving from Ohio to the Red Hook IKEA. (Or driving just to come see us.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

The ubiquitous multipurpose IKEA Lack side table - now only $8

If you have't already met, let me introduce you to one of the best furniture bargains in the world - IKEA's Lack side table, which just dropped from $15 to the positively recessionary price of $7.99.

The IKEA table is so famously cheap that it has served as the raw material for countless unintended furniture applications - like the Moddi murphy bed, made from 12 Lack side tables.

The Lack has been mirrored, veneered and even covered with mosaic tile.

But don't let the humble price tag be a deterrent to letting a Lack into your life. Plenty of real deal designers use the Lack (or very Lack-like) tables.

Not a Lack but sure looks like one

I Suwannee
May not be a Lack but a Lack would work

Note that Lacks tend to come in pairs and usually mate for life.

Design Sponge

Personally, I have had three Lack tables in my life - two of the Lack triangle side tables (no longer available) and one square one.

How about you? Who out there has a little Lack?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

DIY Wednesday: Puff baby knitted pouf

A few weeks ago I posted a request to friends or family who knit to make Design Within Reach's Flocks Pouf, which retails for a mere $800.

Pickles, a Norwegian DIY blog, came up with a home version they dubbed the Puff Daddy. I didn't really expected my plaintive request to get any response. But my clever friend Katie, who was stuck home sick for a day, decided to try it.

And here it is. I was so impressed and amazed. A dead ringer, right? It varies in only one small detail . . .


However, Barbie says it's the coolest.