Tiny Project

I just saw this short video by Sean Ohlencamp who captured 365 days of his desktop–via Kottke. Oddly, it had never occurred to me to use every element on my desktop to make it beautiful (including the icons).

Is your desktop lovely? Mine was not, but I took a few minutes this morning and made it nice. (The photo is by Heather Champ). You should do it too, as it will make your day more lovely. If you do, will you do a screen capture and tag it “desktopahh” on Flickr? That way, we can all see the results here, and that will be fun.

Steal This Idea

Suitcases, originally uploaded by MaggieMason.

OK, I have a good idea, and I think one of you should do it. Please collect little kid suitcases and old bowling bags and turn them into laptop bags and backpacks. If I were doing it, I would:

-Add a sturdy over-the shoulder strap (or two for a backpack option)
-provide a padded interior pocket for the laptop
-provide a pocket for magazines or files
-sew on an exterior canvas pocket with velcro or magnetic flap closure (as a place for phone, wallet, keys, pens)
-Look for suitcases with double zippers, or orient the bags vertically so you only have to unzip a little of the bag to get at its contents

If I wanted to get fancy with the outside pocket, I would:

-add a key fob
-sew in a couple of ribbon loops to hold pens upright

Make a few, put up an etsy shop, then email me. You could also pitch it to ReadyMade for their section on repurposing old goods to make new wonderful stuff. Eh?

Please do this. I lack the time and skill, but you are a very skilled individual who has been looking for a unque product to sell. Thank goodness we found each other.

Nesting: the Nursery

Me painting, originally uploaded by MaggieMason.

Bryan and I adore our spacious, reasonably priced, one-bedroom apartment, so instead of moving when I got pregnant we decided to convert the breakfast nook (my old office) into a nursery. I have a photo set going to record the process.

So far, we added doors to the arched entryway, Bryan tore down a wall of mirrors and painted the room (twice, as the first color looked like a Tiffanys explosion), and we enlisted some friends to help paint this bubble mural on one wall. We’re going for a nautical, 1950s Illustrated Encyclopedia look.

Here’s how we did the mural, easy peasy:

-The design is from a letterpress card that we love. I photographed it with my digital camera, discarded the color info in Photoshop, and turned the contrast way up.

– We borrowed a projector from Bryan’s office (Thanks, Adaptive Path!), and plugged it in to my computer. We opened the image in Photoshop and moved the projector around until the image fit the whole wall.

– I tried painting a single circle with a paintbrush, and it took forever. Our friend Rachel suggested using common household items (like glasses, bottles, tins) to stamp the bubbles. She is a genius.

– We filled paper plates with paint and got to stamping. Before marking the wall, we tested potential stampers on a piece of paper to be sure they’d work well. Glasses with wider lips seemed to work best. With Ryan and Rachel’s help the whole thing only took about 45 minutes.

-We ordered pizza.

More Plantiness

Someone in my Flickr comments reminded me that I meant to post a link to the tiny little terrariums created by Paula Hayes. Makes you wish you had a pair of tweezers, a pitcher of mojitos, and a free Saturday.

Also, lots of people are asking about the bromeliads, or tillandsia, or “plants that don’t need dirt.” If you’re one of them, you can get your very own be-tentacled plant at Paxton Gate, which is my very favorite nursery/entomology/art/taxidermy store in the city. You can stop by or order plants by calling or emailing them.

How To Make Nesting Terrariums

Originally uploaded by MaggieMason.

I like dirt. Unfortunately, apartment living in San Francisco doesn’t afford much opportunity for gardening, and we travel so much that most houseplants come with a built-in death sentence.

I decided I wanted to make some terrariums with succulents, so we’d have some green around that didn’t require too much upkeep. Here are the results.

I used antique apothecary jars that we picked up at the flea market for $60 each. We bought two small bags of cactus mix, which I used as a base, and one bag of decorative gravel to pour over the top. The project was surprisingly easy, but I still managed to trip over a few things. So:

Mistakes for you to avoid

-My jars came with lids. I think this would be great for ferns, which love humidity, but not so good for cacti. I ended up just taking them off because everyone looked sad, but the lids are so awesome that I’m bummed.

-Most of the bigger plants we bought were useless because there was such a small area to landscape. The two-inch plants were ideal, and way, way cheaper to boot. As you can see, I ended up putting most of the bigger plants in pots and vases I had laying around. (Yes, I have entirely too much stuff laying around.)

-I put one bigger plant in a jar because I loved it so much, and ended up bruising the crap out of it. Also, some of the outer leaves were touching the jar, which kills them. It looks like I’ll need to cut off all the outer ring of foliage to keep things from getting dire.


-I used a few plants that don’t need dirt, and they were heavenly. Impossible to kill or bruise, and super easy to place.

-I plan to get some little ceramic dinosaurs and things to place among the plants, as I think it would be hilarious. Mushrooms would be equally funny in a woodland scene.

I’m watering every few days with a couple squirts from a spray bottle, and it seems to be working out, but I watered the soil at first to give the plants help with transition. UPDATE: Gayla says:
“Misting the soil directly about once a month is all that is needed for most cacti and succulents of the desert sort. Unlike most plants they don’t need to be watered when planted but prefer to adjust for a few days before a first water.
Definitely keep those lids off! Even with the humidity-loving tilandsia ’cause the lack of air circulation will drive them straight to Death By Rot.”

That’s it! Do this, it’s fun.


The fantastic DIY magazine ReadyMade just launched a blog, and I’ll be posting there every Tuesday. In other news, Bryan sent in a description of our engagement for the February edition of the magazine. We’re under the subtitle “The Pyromaniacs.” Go see.