Sunday, September 18, 2011

Neighborhood Ride {a guest post by Melissa}

My dear friend, Melissa, inspires me to slow down my pace and appreciate the beautiful moments and places in our lives. She recently documented one of her favorite neighborhood bike rides. Enjoy . . .

This is my neighborhood bike. She’s only been mine for a few months. She has a longer history than I will ever know.

My grandmother passed her along to me this summer.  At 86, Grandma hasn’t been riding for at least a few years. Grandpa had built the bike for her in the early 70s, to be her neighborhood bike. He found the abandoned Gitane mixte frame in an alley in Isla Vista, the neighborhood my newly married hippie parents were living in at the time.

Grandpa, by the way, though also 86, continues to cycle, averaging around seventy-five miles a week. We recently asked him to calculate his lifetime mileage. (He always logs his miles but had never added them up.) 90,617: that's how many miles my grandfather has cycled since 1976. Yep, that's nearly four times around the earth's circumference.

This is my home, my starting point for today’s neighborhood ride. It was built in 1906. I’ve only lived here for 6 of its 105 years of existence. I feel toward my home and my neighborhood like I do toward my bike: nostalgic for memories that are longer than mine and hardly my own.

Two things I’ve added to my home’s rich history are my vegetable garden and my bees that help pollinate it. I’ve had some luck with my zucchini plants this summer, so this morning’s harvest just begged me to make more zucchini bread than I could possibly eat. I have three loaves of bread to deliver to my neighbors: hence today’s neighborhood ride.

First stop: Laura’s house. She’s one of my oldest friends, and we’re pretty much committed to living within walking distance from one another.  That way we can either grow old together gracefully or intervene when one or the other goes nuts. Her kiddos, just-turned-seven Elizabeth and almost-five Jack, want to ride around the block with me. Sounds like fun and I’m in no hurry.

I make sure to ride past the duplex that my dear friends used to rent. The house is still empty. I wonder who will live there next, but I doubt they’ll be as great as Rebecca and Gavin (who, for the record, restored vintage Raleigh three-speeds as their neighborhood bikes).

Next leg: up the hill to Katie’s, the only bit of work required on this ride. I remember when I thought riding up this hill was climbing. Now the incline just adds a bit of variety. Katie and her family are super healthy eaters but I made the zucchini bread with whole wheat flour this time to make up for its generous amount of chocolate chips. 

Next stop is my niece Madeline’s house (oh, and my sister & brother-in-law’s, too).  My mom lives in an apartment just behind their house. Whenever I bring them zucchini bread, I have to let her know right away, so that she makes sure to snag a piece before it disappears. 

Sometimes my sister Steph and I go on neighborhood rides together, with Madeline in the toddler seat on her bike. On a recent ride, Madeline noticed how my hands were placed atop my handlebars and said, “Your hands look like bird wings, Lala.” Such a poetic imagination.

I love to think that Steph and I rode together just like this around our old neighborhood twenty-some years ago.

Last stop today is the local market for a six-pack of Fat Tire.

My next door neighbor, Alli, might just want to sit on the porch this evening and enjoy some beer and zucchini bread. I kept a loaf at home just in case!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Easy-Peasy Mini-Terrarium

 Last week I put together a mini-terrarium with succulents from my yard, 
some stones left over from another project, a glass container 
I picked up a few years ago at a thrift store, and some dirt.

The succulents are easy to propagate ~ just break of a bit and stick it in the soil.

Mix up the heights and textures...

pop in the rocks...

~ easy-peasy mini-terrarium ~

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Craigslist Storage Saga

I have a tolerate/hate relationship with Craigslist. 

I've spent a lot of time searching for the perfect something or other, but every time I've actually decided to buy it's been disappointing--people not home when they said they'd be, furniture in poorer condition than advertized--basically a waste of time and gas money. 

But, hope springs eternal
and I continue to imagine the perfect this-or-that can be found (cheap!) on Craigslist.

With Jack starting kindergarten this year, I found myself in need of some more storage space for all of our school supplies and so my Craigslist-hunting began. I needed a cabinet with very specific dimensions to fit in the spot I had in mind and be large enough for our storage needs.  In addition to the size I decided that I wouldn't waste my time on anything that wasn't solid wood, or very close to home.

I finally found the perfect candidate:
the perfect size
located nearby
reasonable price
solid wood
and the ad said "excellent condition."

Well, "excellent" turned out to be wonky. The top was loose, the shelf was close to breaking, and the doors were all slightly askew. 

But, hope still abounding
and considering the perfection of the size, I decided to try to make it work.

I don't have pictures of the very boring, tedious, never-ending project of sanding, priming, painting, shelf re-enforcing and re-assembling process. Thank me.

I also don't have pictures of myself, sitting in front of the blasted thing, scratching my head, fiddling with levels and tape measures and new hinges and such, trying to figure out why for the life of me I could not get the doors to hang properly.

So we skip ahead to after I took it apart again, squared it all up with exacting precision, nailed it back together, and then had to touch up all the marks and scuffs that the whole baffling process caused. 

{By the way, I used this paint additive called Floetrol to thin out the paint a bit and lengthen the drying time in order to lessen the brush strokes and allow me to touch up with super-thin coats, so I didn't have to repaint the whole thing. Phew.}

And here's the finished product:

I lined the back of the cabinet with scrapbooking paper 
and changed out the wooden knobs for metal ones.

The paper was mounted using highly professional scotch tape.

This project took a lot longer than I would have guessed, but in the end I think it was worth it.

It provides plenty of space for our school supplies, with room to grow.

And it fits in my smallish living room perfectly.

Thanks, Craigslist. (Kind of.)
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