Monday, September 15, 2014

Cool Stuff Happens

Like when my start of the school year bouquet dried up and I went to strip off the petals to eco-dye with them.
The once lavender rose dropped to the table just the way it had existed in life.
Man oh man, was that COOL!!!
For EXTRA CREDIT find one of the three rose gardens on our campus and bring your teacher red rose petals to eco-dye with.
Red works the best.
And only collect windfall, do not pluck a fresh one off a flower!
Put it in a baggie with your name and period inside on a piece of paper.
Give to me when you walk into the room.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Looking Forward...

to teaching my new 3-D students the art of handspinning.
These are some of their dyed roving choices for this year.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Happy Heart

Nothing makes me happier then when my students continue to create after their class with me is over.
Three of my senior students, Bianca Tolentino, Kaili Hamada and Karisma Dev, all checked out spinning wheels from me for over the summer so that they could continue to spin their own yarns.
Above and below you can see what Bianca did with her handspuns.  
She made a cardboard loom and wove an elongated piece of fabric which she then turned into a journal (a project we did in her 3-D class)

Senior Reis Misaka, who learned to work with wood in the 3-D class, hand crafted a Niddy Noddy from wood doweling for Bianca to skein her handspuns (above)
I'm so thrilled to be able to pass on the fiber arts to this next generation so that they can continue to pass it along and keep these arts alive.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A First, Touching a Butterfly

I know the pix is blurry, but I was trying so hard to touch and take a pix at the same time.  
Not as steady as I used to be.
This was up at the cabin this weekend as I was watering the yard.
This beautiful butterfly was totally unafraid of me.
He must have sat on the rocks for a good minute or two as I ran into the house to get my camera, then raced back out to get it's picture.
I could barely feel it's delicate wings.
What a treat this was.
Daphne, Kaili and Bianca, you know who this is, right??

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Labor Day 2014 & Back Surgery

At one point or another during the day, Jim and I got to hang out with and enjoy all our children and grandchildren this Labor Day.
Here's Jim at his son's house sitting out by the pool, trying not to think about his upcoming back surgery.

Our newest grandbaby is brewing inside Jim's daughter Julie's tummy right now.
She is 3 months along.
Aren't she and Mike the most beautiful couple?

But what really warmed our hearts was watching from a distance as our two blended families interacted and had a blast together at my Ex's house for dinner.
Here we all are that night to celebrate and give our good vibs to Jim before his major back surgery. 
Good Luck sweet man!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Barn - Part IV

So for the inside of the barn we needed a "pro".
We found him two cabins from ours, a retired Navy nurse and ex pharmaceutical salesman, Chris Love.
His father was a carpenter and taught Chris from an early age to swing a hammer and drill a hole.
Chris had just completed a porch add-on to his cabin and his craftsmanship was right up my alley, plus he was bored, 
so perfect timing!
This was the interior shell before Chris got started.
His first mission was to wire the whole cabin.
I wanted plug-in switches on all the walls, 
as well as a light switch on the wall when you enter.
So Chris drilled holes in all the two by fours and wired the place up.
In the meantime Jim and I dug a ditch from the cabin to the barn and laid in all the electricity.
I told Chris I wanted a loft big enough so that it would sleep 3-4 people on air mattresses with a little walkway/kneelway in between,
so he used redwood beams and planks to built that with.
He also used exterior siding for the walls so that I'd be able to nail things on without worry of finding a stud.
He and Jim installed the cutest little air conditioner that works like a charm. 
Next he painted the wall siding a swiss coffee neutral, 
and put in the most gorgeous ceiling.
He used pine tung and groove, and stained it Walnut Pecan, 
and framed out the windows in the same color.
Jim and I went to Ikea for the overhead lighting which Chris installed next.

I couldn't decide on flooring so Chris suggested we go with pine and stain it the same as everything else for a really cohesive look.
Sounded good to me.
He had to rent a heavy duty sanding machine to do the flooring
 and there was so much sawdust that I was able to mulch all my plants with it  :)

Then the work began on the ladder and railings.
Both are works of art!
The ladder was so large that Chris had to suspend it from his workshop ceiling to be able to get all around it to build, sand, and stain.
And of course he put multiple layers of varnish to protect all the wood from top to bottom.

And this last weekend he finished up bookshelves above the front door and window.
Love how they turned out.
He also cut out part of a side shelf to be able to store the ladder out of the way when not in use.
Check out the close up below to see the details of how he had to notch the wood to make it fit just so, so that we could still open the door all the way.

I also really love how the railing turned out with all the black steel details. 

So a great big THANK YOU Chris Love for this amazing space you turned our little barn into.
Your craftsmanship and design skills are incredible, 
and it was so easy to work with you.
We will enjoy it along with our children and grandkids for many years to come!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Barn - Part III

My son Zach came up the mountain for a day to visit so of course I had to put him to work.
But this job was right up his alley.
He donates many of his weekends building vegetable gardens in people's front yards in South Central L.A. with a group of others.
They are called Green Grounds L.A., and are a non-profit organization.
Two Whitney Alum, Lisa Yi and Michelle Namaka Fonoimoana also are part of this wonderful community of people beautifying the front yards in South Central while encouraging better eating habits thru the raising of vegetables.
We ended up with an excess of rock and found wood pieces so I asked my son to help build one more additional planter to help hold the hillside.
I told him I was hoping for the shape of a heart.
So Zach carefully laid out a large heart outline then we started planning out where to dig our holes for plants.
I told him I wanted to plant a nectarine tree along with a couple of Nandina's for fall color.

When we went to the nursery we also picked up a couple of bushes with lovely purple and pink flowers (forgot what they were called).
The small nursery in Crestline only had 5 gallon sized plants so Zach dug and I planted all afternoon.

Tah-Dah, our labor of love.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Barn -Part II

So after the outside of the Barn was done we immediately got to work on the landscaping.
I knew I wanted some scrubs on the left side so that's where I began.
On my daily walks up here I've discovered this fabulous bush called the Fire Bush which has purplish blue leaves and crazy wonderful hazy looking blooms from a distance.
I alternated those with another bush that has reddish green leaves.
Can't wait to see them grow together and the effect they will create with their colors against the lighter green of the building.
My next project was to get those stepping stones out of the way so I could level the hill in front of the barn.
Here I must have dug up another 200-300 daffodil bulbs.
It was crazy!!
(That man in the distance is our neighbor, friend and carpenter, Chris Love)
He and my husband Jim were working on the inside while I did the outside.
I took me two full days of moving the earth to get that hill where I wanted it, wetting it down as I went so it would compact.
And as I worked I got burnt to a crisp  :(
Then off Jim and I went to dig rocks from the mountain side.
Since his back is so bad I wouldn't let him do too much of the lifting, and as the summer went on his back got so bad that he had to sit out a lot of our rock runs.
So on my daily walks with our dog I'd kick rocks from the side of the road, then go back later with the jeep and load them up.
I made to make several trips cuz I was planning lots of walkways and planters.
This old wheelbarrow that we found in a junk yard has really come in handy.
I've only fallen over a couple of times with it going up and down thru the loose dirt  :)
Below is the first rockway I lined to the barn.
It was like putting together a puzzle.
At first I didn't realize how many rocks I was going to need, so I wasn't picky when it came time to get down to business.
Besides rocks I eended up using broken asphalt, concrete chunks, broken brick, whatever I could find along the road.
I put in two special stepping stones that my kids and I made when they were little with their sweet tiny handprints.
Also on the right side of the barn I dug out a lot of the hillside to form a walkway that will later on lead to a picnic table and chairs amongst the trees.
I recycled pieces of wood from the interior of the barn and got to use a nail gun for the very first time to build a wooden barrier to hold back the dirt when it rains.  :)
When my children and grandkids come up to visit I plan on having them glue mosaic pieces onto the inside of the barrier then we will grout it up for a super cool mosaic wall. 
Next was 5 bags of 70 pound pea gravel sacks to spread out to keep the weeds down and dirt off our feet.
I also started planning some planter areas for holly and rose bushes in front of the Barn.
Then down the hill I went with another walkway.
This one was much steeper and longer so Jim taught me to lay in railroad ties for steps.
That was fun!
After they were in Jim drilled thru them and nailed in these super long steel nails to help hold them in place.

OH no, then another 8 more bags of pea gravel to spread.
That was the hardest part for me because I couldn't lift the bags, way too heavy!
I could barely drag them, so I would cut a 5 inch opening and used my hand to pull enough out so that I could lift the bag to where I needed it.
This was rough and really time-consuming.
The weather was very warm and humid all summer and I was drinking a ton of ice water a day while I worked.
Jim just kept refilling my glass  :)
Thank you honey.
Jim spray painted a black metal arbor for me white and I buried it in the ground at the end of the long walkway.

Below is my tiny rose garden and this really cool piece of wood I dug from the ground that looks kind of sculptural on it's end.
And then it rained, it poured and so much dirt was washed over my freshly spread pea gravel.
So up to the street to the top of our property I went and build a dam from broken pieces of wood I'd dragged home.
I posted that last week if you want to see it again, titled "So Much Better than Going to the Gym"
In past III you will see what my son and I did with all the left over rocks and wood.
Cuz I put everyone to work when they come to visit!

Friday, September 5, 2014



Click on Extra Credit Opportunities across the top Home bar to see what's up for this Saturday!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Making of Our Barn - Part I

When my students come back to school this Tuesday and ask me how my summer was and did I go anywhere, I'm going to tell them they can check out my summer vacation here on the blog.
We spent almost two months in our cozy little cabin, all 500 square feet of it.
And that's why we decided we needed more leg and sleeping room, along with a studio space that I could create and teach from.
So first we needed to find the perfect spot for it. 
We own the lots on either side of us, but the hill wasn't as steep to the right of the cabin and there weren't as many trees, so we took 3 long , hard and sweaty days to clear and level a 10 by 12 foot space.
I never knew leveling land could be so difficult.
In the process I unearthed at least 800 daffodil bulbs that the previous owners had planted.
Jim could have cared less about them and was happy to toss them to the side, but not me,.
 Nope, I had to pick up and bag every single one.
I plan to replant them in the fall all over our property and around the barn.

A great company in Anaheim called Tuff Sheds pre-built the sides and we got to design where the door and windows went, the height, width and length of the building.
I ordered a porch at the last minute and they had no problem accommodating my wishes. 
I knew I wanted a red door.
I also wanted lots of light streaming in the windows, and they are double paned to keep out the weather.
We also got to pick out building and roof colors.
It took 2 men 2 full days to put it all together.
The summer heat was hot and humid but the guys just kept on trucking.
I would highly recommend this company if anyone is interested in doing something similar. 
The only bummer is that the inside was completely undone and we needed to find someone to help us with that.
In Part IV I'll show you who we found, and the building of the inside.

So here are two different views of our finished new space.
Jim spray painted an old beat up chair red to match the door.
Love, love, love our new little barn.