Archive for August, 2010

August 29, 2010

How to make The Writing Desk new again.

About a year ago, I moved to St. Louis, and for the first time since high school, had my very own furniture in my room.  Now, I’ve loved all my furniture (in room 312 in Syme Hall, three different rooms in Bagwell Hall, Wolf Village apartments, a room at Hotel Amend/Dean, Belmont Flats in Dundee, and 7 Fedral), it was nice to use all of the things I picked out when I was younger.

One of these items is what I picked out in middle school as my “Writing Desk,” not to be used for such mundane things as homework or writing thank-you notes.  In truth, I think I wanted to be like Jo March or had romantic ideas of becoming the next Jane Austen — I wanted a place my very own to wield my pen and write the Next Great American Novel.  And for such a venture, of course, I needed The Perfect Desk.

Now, I don’t remember where I got the desk, at some antiques store in New Bern.  I thought it was beautiful.  It has long spindley legs, it looks lady-like with its three small drawers to keep your paper and pens in, and fit perfectly under my window where I would sit at it on a perfectly uncomfortable straight-backed chair with an embroidered seat, looking out over our backyard through a window that I had hung Belgian lace curtains over.

The Writing Desk had been sitting all on its lonesome for five years, with a lot of papers and notebooks piled on and under it, forgotten when I went to college and bigger and better things.  When I moved out here to St. Louis, though, I decided it should make the trip.

The Writing Desk, all wrapped up for the trip to St. Louis -- it's the blue thing on it's side on top of the boxes on top of the trunk.

Much to my chagrin, however, while I still think it is lovely and elegant, it wasn’t in great condition at all!

my battered Writing Desk

Not only was the wood not in great condition, but the pull handles don’t match, something had been done to the desk top at some point in its history, the right drawer comes apart if you don’t pull it out with just the exact knack!  It’s amazing how many things you overlook when you just want to love a piece of furniture.

And so, to at least make it look a bit more presentable, one day the week before our classes started, I undertook Project Desk Rehab.

If you haven’t discovered the wonders of Old English wood oil, you really should.  It will change your world.

Old English, aka Magic.

Right before your very eyes, the wood turns beautiful again.  Just dust the wood well, put a bit of the Old English onto a clean rag, rub over the surface, and then go back over again with another clean rag until dry.

Desk Rehab in progress.

And at the end of it, you have a beautiful desk!  Now, instead of looking old and unkempt, it just looks like it has character.

Beautiful once more!

Now, after a year’s worth of wear and tear (including four tough courses, two grants, a review, bill-paying, and any number of non-romantic things), it’s probably time for a touch up, but with something this easy, I’m willing to bet I can keep The Writing Desk looking nice until I have a time and a place to gaze out of a curtained window and ponder my Great Novel.

What projects have you done that were an easy fix but really rewarding?

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August 20, 2010

Fleece is turning to yarn!

In the last few weeks, it’s been way too hot to spin, especially wool.  Every time I tried, it turned into a mess of fiber sticking to my hands or flying around the room if I turned my fan on.

But I can at least show you my progress so far.

I’ve spun up one bobbin’s worth and wound it onto a spare knitting needle to be ready for plying once I’ve spun up a second bobbin.  (What I wouldn’t do for two more bobbins!)

A bobbin's full of wool!

As you can see, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping guage.  It’s pretty fine since I’m going to use it plied and I want aran (close to worsted) weight.  There are a lot of little variations because of the different wool types that are all blended together (I didn’t sort the fleece as well as I should have), but I really like the little bits of character.

I’m learning a TON already.  A lot of the methods that I’ve read and youtubed about that I couldn’t ever get to work just seem to happen with the rolags I made of this fleece.  I even understand long draw drafting!  And it makes everything so much more even.  I’m also learning about how different staple lengths and textures spin up — I’m able to recognize (by feel anyway) what types of fibers are going to want to slub, what fibers need more twist, and when I get to a section that needs to be carded a bit better.

Patty has turned out to be quite the little helper with this project — up until now she’s just ignored the wheel for the most part.

Patty supervising.

Before too long, of course, she needed to check to be sure that I was hitting the correct WPI.  I think she thought the wool could use a teensy bit more carding, just the type that little kitty paws would be good for.

"Just a second, let me check here..."

We are expecting just a smidgen-bit of cooler weather this weekend (heat index is only 99 degrees, yeah!), so maybe I’ll get a few minutes to prepare some more fleece for spinning.  I bet by the end of this project I will have picked up some speed as well as consistancy!

Happy spinning!

August 15, 2010

C25K: day -1

Inspired by my dear friend Kristy and dance-mom ‘A’ (and getting the kind-of-go-ahead from my physical therapist), I’ve decided to give the Couch-to-5K program.

It looks like a great plan — not too much too early, there are forums where I can go for support, and even a facebook page!  Like anything new, it’s great to have a community and proof of someone where it worked.  Plus, since I know some people individually, I can go to them for support, too, if I need it.  It doesn’t hurt that one of my St. Louis people is a Real Runner, so she’ll be good for peer pressure.  🙂

One problem I did run into, though, was where to run and how to keep track of what I should be doing.  We’re in the middle of the second hottest sum

mer record here in St. Louis, so running outside is a non-starter for a novice like me.  That means a treadmill, but I don’t really want to be super focused on having to do math of minutes into seconds and get my mind all frustrated. The solution?  Podcasts!

The only problem was that I wasn’t that interested in the music people have already worked on.  As a life-long DIYer, I decided to make my own.  “It’ll be simple!” I thought.  “No problem!”

For once, I was right!

I got the verbal cues (run…walk…run…walk) from here.  And then I went on to tackle Mac’s GarageBand.

Step 1:  Get your tracks.

Then it's as easy as click and drag!

Step 2:  Make sure everything is in the right place and record if you need to.

To record, just click the red radio button.  To stop recording, click the button again.

To get playback, click the triangle play button.  To stop playback, click the button again.  (easy, right?!)

Since I didn't want computer voice to give me my cues, I recorded my own voice. Here, the purple on the bottom and the red up top is what and where it is recording.

Step 3:  Check your playback to make sure it’s what you want.

Step 4:  Export to iTunes.  (I always think of this kind of being like Willy Wonka sends ch

ocolate to the TV.)

Hint — You don’t have to “record” the final track.  Everything you have playing will be put into one file.

Just click "Share" and you're all set!

And last, but not least, be sure that it actually went to iTunes correctly.

And it made it!

And now I have an at least tolerable podcast for my C25K this week!  woohoo!

In case you’re wondering, it’s a selection of songs from Grey’s Anatomy Season 1 soundtrack.

So this is Week 1:

Warmup:  5 min. brisk W

Workout:  *60 sec R, 90 sec W recovery* rep * to * for 20 min.

Cool down:  5 min brisk W

Rep from beg 3 x