Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nursery Mural

 The director of Children's Ministries at my church asked if I'd be able to do a little somethin' on the wall of our newly remodeled nursery and I was like, "For the wee ones? Totally."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Bike Weekend!

Sometimes Minh gets an idea stuck in his craw and it won't let up. Something will strike his fancy and then he'll be on Craigslist obsessively until said object is found and acquired.I have often been the grateful beneficiary of this habit and this week was no exception!

Minh had the great idea to take a train trip up to Santa Barbara and get around town on bikes. We've got bikesa single speed and a mountain bike each, but how about new bikes! Ten speeds! This all made complete sense to him so I trusted his inkings and went along with it. Until we checked prices. Santa Barbara in the summertime? Yikes! So we decided to postpone the trip until Autumn but why, why not get the bikes now?

It wasn't my idea so I wasn't sure to begin. I stopped noticing bikes ever since the dirty hipsters started dominating the scene a few years back. Minh gave me a few bikes to look at but nothing struck my facncy as being better than the single-speed I've already got or my Cannondale that can ride over anything. And then a few pages in I saw The Pelican.

I'm calling it The Pelican because I saw a flock of 'em cruising at low altitude on our most recent jaunt down to the dog beach and I never realized how cool they were. They glide around like they own the joint and you're just lucky enough to be in their shadow for a second or two. I respect them and this bike gave me the same feeling. They're kinda similar: they;re not flashy creatures but the'ye cool just the same.

The Pelican is really a Canadian-made 1968 CCM Grand Prix. It's called a Mixte because it's a neato compromise between the durability of a traditional diamond frame and a skirt-friendly low slung lady frame. I'd seen a few examples but the geometry of this one knocked my socks off. It's got a sort of low-rider attitude and one test drive was all it took. Sold.

But this bike is no spring chicken. It's got a fair amount of rust on the chrome but nothing some steel wool and Brasso can't fix easily enough.  There aren't any fancy lugs but the styling is cool enough for me and I like the little ripples in the front fairing. Some new grips, new tires, new pedals, maybe a pannier and a saddle to boot, and it'll be better than new :)

Minh's got a 3-tiered scale when it comes to most things in life: either it's bad, pretty good, or good. Except when it comes to bikes. He's a cycle sommlier, noticing fine lines, geometry, lug shapes, everything I don't. So my bike had been successfully acquired but that isn't enough to keep Minh from giving Craigslist a few more once-overs before moving on to other things. He establishes habits quickly I guess :) So he comes across an understated ad that basically reads: "old Raleigh, hes been sitting in the garage for years, no rust, locking front fork with key, made in England"  The single picture shows a blue and gold trimmed bike and the seller is asking $125. Minh's got a feeling it's a late 80's model, but the locking front fork and "made in England" remark make him think it's worth investigating.

Oh boy.

He was right.

This bike is sweet. SWEEEET!

Turns out what Minh got was a 1958 Raleigh 3-Speed Superbe. This is the equivalent of getting a Pollock painting at a garage sale. Ok well not that crazy but close. He's been on Cloud 9 and I can't wait to cruise around on some sweet early evening rides.

Once I learn how to take a picture properly, I'm sure you'll agree :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cute Helmet Hair

Due to some exciting occurrences this past weekend I have an excuse to try (some of) these neato hairstyles from Refinery 29!

Every single one. This is going to be a vast improvement on the whole frizzled-poor-excuse-for-a-side-pony-that-looks-like-it-got-chewed-on-by-a-drunk-weasel of years past. Wish I had pictures of that to do a proper before-and-after.

 Honorary Member of the Braid Brigade for LYFE!

All photos by Anna-Alexia Basile

Operation Quit Looking Like an Ambivalent Troll" has just been given a booster shot!

Thanks internet!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Peggy's Mural

Today I finished up a mural for a super cool woman I met at Trader Joe's. She liked the pond scene I painted behind the flower section and wanted to know if I was free to paint something similar at her place.

She's got a sort of oasis for herself and her menagerie of rescue dogs up in the Pasadena foothills. This place is cool. Tons of different old growth plants, an enormous avocado tree, trellises, garden paths, and toward the back is an old horse barn.

Part of the structure had to be replaced with new particle board siding which didn't do much justice to the vibe she had going, so I concentrated my efforts on that spot. Maybe 13' by 9' ish?

She gave me free reign to do as I pleased, with a few requests: butterflies, cacti, and a 1955 Ford T-Bird. why? Because she totally has one, in super nice condition, and it runs like a champ!

Cars aren't easy, but how could I refuse? :)

Here's an example of that scary midpoint, just before I started the car. Just when everything can go down the chute.

Crisis averted.

I filled in a little more background just so I wouldn't have to repaint stuff behind the windows and blocked in the car. Butterflies are still undone. I decided to save the car for last and go ahead on the butterflies.

And with most of them done, let's get going.

 I tightened up the lines and started articulating the cut lines in the body, hood, windows and hard top.

Looking back at the car it really wasn't a stark white so I warmed it up a little and started to contour.

 Compliments the teal interior nicely :)

And here comes the reflections in the  headlights plus the grills on the hood and front end.

 Now reflections in the chrome fixtures, hubcaps, and windshields!

 Perspective is only really weird from the extreme right side, but still fun to look at :)

On the last day of painting, Peggy surprised me with a beeeyoutiful barrel cactus (seasonally decorated just so) to add to my own fledgling garden.

The whole job was such a treat. Happy to do it again soon!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Minh's Pick

Minh might not be able to distinguish between and chuck steak and a ribeye but he's got terrific taste in music. This little ditty has been worming its way into our hearts for months.

Last week this song started as we were pulling up to the house. I suggested we back out and take a drive. Around minute 4 we wound up looking at a orangey, twinkly San Gabriel Valley, very happy to be alive.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Office

This is were I've been 5 days a week for the past 3 or 4 years. Cozy isn't it? I make signs, large and small for Trader Joe's ( a national brand of neighborhood stores!! We cut out the middleman and pass the savings onto you!! We add ginger to everything!! yack yack yack). Well all that's true but looking at this I think you can see how someone can go a little stir crazy after a while, no?

Well as of this week, I'll get a little more fresh air. I've been getting a steady stream of freelance work making signs and chalkboards for people in San Gabriel, Pasadena, etc, enough to cut my work week down to 4 days. WEE!

So I can gripe for days about nitpicky junk but sometimes when I take a step back I remember how low stress and fun and silly my job can be so I thought I'd share what I'm up to every once in a while.

Today, on top of figuring out price changes and some run-of-the-mill maintenance I kept working on some end cap crowns for our fearless flyer. I'm sad I didn't think about taking pictures from the very beginning because it's fun to see how something can go from looking like total trash to actually presentable. The midpoint is always interesting to me, where one bad decision can make it look like total hell. That point for these came well before these shots when I was outlining the banner. Just an inch-around smaller is all it would take, and a coat less of white paint in the center.

Once the banner came out looking ok I figured we'd be in the clear. We used to have to decorate differently for each flyer but our regional or whoever wants us to streamline the process which means anythign I made this time around had to be more generic and more permanent. That just means blowing up text as far as I'm concerned and I like trying my hand at different fonts so I don't mind. That's a copy of the Flyer there under the sign near the ruler. I use my hands and fingers to make measurements and can spot centers and straight lines pretty ok.

I freehand the letters in pencil, just because I like the practice, but before I throw paint down I checked with a ruler to make sure my letters weren't tapering too much and wouldn't you know it? All my small caps were in an eighth of a inch of each other on all three boards :)

Here's two of the three in progress, side by side. Never underestimate the power of a drop shadow. See the difference?

Loving Windsor Blue.

So after they all get a little drop shadow action I need to strengthen the backs and attach a mounting bracket. Here comes the 1/2" x 1"s and a few L-Brackets and then . . .

New project!


The boss needs this  Rosenblum wine sign done el quicko.  For the small wine chalk signs I like to keep it quick so most of the time I'll write the name out in my own loose Trader Joe's font but the Rosenblum spoke to me so I went with their text style. Textstyle. That's a good name. Taken. Just checked.


Here's some chalk lettering, done freehand again.

This is how I check to see if I'm straight and keeping the same letter height consistently. Just look at it from the side! Foreshortening. Fore sure.

 I save the bigger letters for last.

It turned out fine. And so did the headers! Trader Joe's doesn't like to have blank anything in the store so on the back I whipped out a little leaf print. For now.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Strawberry Plant!

it's cool.

Trader Joe's has never carried them before and they came in gorgeous and gleaming :)

Not like I really need it but I've heard of strawberries being good ground cover which made me think they might be harder to kill than I thought. Yay! I'm batting about .875 as far as plant survival goes. The thyme and savory were brought back from the brink with much celebration, the gardenia is looking perfect in the kitchen and the tomatoes my friend Michelle gave me look promising. The succulents? Champions, obv.

The lavender was another story, but I don't think she put up much of a fight so I'm not going to take it to heart.

I can't wait to find out if home grown strawberries taste as good as home grown tomatoes. Don't think I'll have to wait long!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Kitchen Friend

If I had to name one plant I hoped to own but never kill, it would be the gardenia. Fingers crossed . . .

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Pork Chops and Grilled Nectarine Salad

In case I forgot to tell you, I'm really really at grilling pork chops. Like really.

The trick? High mother-lovin' heat. Like merciless hot. It's harder to overcook chops this way I find because the heat selas in all the goodness and once you see grill marks, you flip and wait 'til the meat feels firm (like exactly how you don't want steak to feel) and then it's time for some sweet eatin' :)

My second secret weapon is right next to the chops. Tony Chachere's Herb Seasoning. Just when I thought Tony's couldn't get any better. . . The original is truly great on everything but this one's super on white meats and fish (salmon O my gosh . . .). Herbs class it up!

But what's really great is this barfy stuff right here:

Grilled Nectarine Salad Dressing!

So here's why it looks crazy. t makes aesthetic sense to have your avocado and fruit chopped to equal size, strewn atop the lettuce with the vinaigrette drizzeled lightly on top, but my first concern was how it tastes and I wanted those flavors to like GET IN THERE, you know? And hoohah they totally did. As a bonus having it all goopy like this made it really easy to spoon some of it onto chop chunks like an applesauce spin-off . . .It just made sense at the time . . .

I regret nothing.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Screen Door Do-Over

Abbey Hendrickson of Aesthetic Outburst decided to let her front door do all the greeting, and embroidered "Hello" into the screen in lovely uniform red letters.



This is probably being generous, but I've maybe cross-stitched for about 2 minutes in my entire life (but that doesn't keep me from having an entire box full of 50+ categorized and cataloged bobbins of embroidery floss now does it? No...)

(. . .I wasn't kidding. Don't doubt me.)

So anyway I was like YAY something to make my rented screen door look cooler and maybe hide some of the holes I'm sold. But I don't have time for orderliness right now so we freehanded.

Stars of course!

I did two simple stars and doubled the strands so it wouldn't look super anemic, and then made the smaller ones and filled them in kinda sorta. The tiny scribbled one is my favorite. Halfway through I thought maybe a little planning WOULD have gone a long way and then I could have done something clever like weave in an actual constellation but then I was like who DOESN'T know that it ISN'T? Right?! So anyway this is a good start but I'm going to veer slightly toward overkill and put in a few more tomorrow. If I actually try to photo this right maybe someone else will be as impressed as I am.

Doing something like this totally reminded me: having a house of your own is cool.

Update: I added a few more :) And now I feel like I need a few more. I'm going to follow my new rule which is to push things into overkill and then pull back. Who doesn't like knowing how far is too far!