Monday, April 23, 2012

- No Excuses

If you don't want to spend a lot of money at Ikea there are two rules to follow: 1. Don't go to Ikea.  2. If you do go...avoid the marketplace at all costs.  This is a story about how I followed neither of those rules.

Remember how I said I couldn't write my manuscripts to publish my dissertation until I had a desk?  Well I've had that excuse in my back pocket for too long now, so I decided to finally do something about it.  I had always planned to put a desk under the long white shelf on the wall in the back of the dining room and I've had my eye on this desk from Ikea pretty much ever since I decided to buy a desk.  Except I thought it would look much better under the white shelf if the desk top was also...white.  The only problem was they didn't have the desk top in white.  Or I didn't know how to search the site for it properly.  Last week either they finally got it in white (unlikely), or I finally was smart enough to look for it the right way (more likely).  The point is...once I found it - I rushed out and bought it.

And then I put it together.

This story is the most awesome story ever told.

I decided to let the "office" area get a little bit more color since it was pretty matchy-matchy with the pillows in the living room.  This decision was inspired mostly by the place mats that I found at Ikea.
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They had all the colors, or close variations, of what I'm already working with in the room plus some others that I really like.  As soon as I saw them I got the idea to use them on the desktop as a way to bring some color to the surface.
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I just used three side by side to create a sort of runner that I secured with some double stick tape.  The problem with those place mats is that I found them at the entrance to the marketplace.  Which means I then went on a spree through the rest of the marketplace looking for matching accessories to use on the desktop.  I ended up with a small plate with a fun pink and red pattern on it, a plaid tray to corral a few of the 495861308475985 candles I have placed everywhere (excuse the black smoke spot on the pink vase below) and some tins that will eventually hold pens and such.  I found the green letter trays at Target on clearance for 2.50 a pop.
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I ended up buying 4 placemats because it seemed weird to only buy 3 - especially with how I tend to move things around throughout the year.  I decided to frame the fourth one because from across the room you can't really see the pop of color on the desk, so I thought it would be nice to have something up top on the shelf.  I also switched out a few of the candles to bring some more of the colors in.
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Now all that's left is the writing of the manuscripts.  

Or to find something else to use as a procrastinatory excuse.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

- Getting my Art On

When I hosted Easter it became a little too obvious that I've had a blank canvas hanging in my living room for like...ever.  I think it took me so long to tackle because it is by far my largest undertaking on canvas.  And guys, I am not an artist.  Like on the scale of 1 to Artist, I'm at most a -20.  Not to mention - the larger the canvas - the more expensive it is.  And while I'd bought this one on sale...I still didn't want it to end up in a catastrophe.

After cleaning up the kitchen and watching the finale of the Masters (fantastic shot from Bubba to win it) and skyping with Kelsey, I decided I had mustered up about as much courage as I ever would in this situation.  Originally I had planned to paint with chopsticks - a la Jamie Meares style, but in the trial run this just didn't work out.  Luckily, the chopstick idea had sparked a plan B - so I just went in that direction.

The only thing really set in stone with this painting, was that I wanted it to heavily feature kelly green.  Which is why I did this first:
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I'm not sure what this is.  I wasn't sure how I felt about this.  I tend to look at it from the left of the profile...where it looks like a weird alien body with tentacles.  Although, if you look at the right profile it looks more like a girl with her hair blowing in the wind.  I got all of these effects by applying the paint to a flat canvas, which then I shook back and forth along the floor to get the paint spread out evenly.  Then I propped the canvas up and rotated it a variety of ways to get the drips.

For the second color I went pink.
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And I learned that the consistency of the paint in this process was an important factor.  That pink was really gloppy so it didn't flatten out into a smooth layer, which was fine, because I liked the texture, but that also means it wasn't super great at creating the drips.  I also had to be careful with the placement, because when it intersected with the green blob it looked a bit too much like was giving the alien some eyes.  Since there's a lot of navy in that part of the room I wanted to work with that tone but not match it exactly.  So, next I added a dark teal or marine color.  
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Here's an up close shot of how the colors mixed together with the help of gravity.  And how there were some splatters, which I also really like.
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Next I chose to add a citrus-y green color which I hoped would have enough yellow undertones to play nicely with that color which is used pretty heavily in pillows on the couch.
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Shortly after I started trying to manipulate the drips with gravity I came up with the idea of using a straw and blowing on them to get them to go a bit further/mix a little better.  It was really neat because in some cases when one color was running on another, if I just blew on it a bit I could bring back the color that was being covered up and mix it in.  Here's a close up of how I brought the green back after this pink had covered it.  
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That lighter pink was the last color I added.  I just wanted one shot of it and the goal was to bring in the color of the small dresser this canvas hangs over.  It's painted "ballet slipper" which is really more lavender than the pinks I have in the living room.  I had planned to paint the dresser yellow, but after having it in the living room for some time it turns out I really like it as is and think it works pretty well.  I thought using that color in the canvas would kind of seal the deal on making it look liked it belonged.  Here is what the final looked like as I left it flat to dry over night.
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And here it is all set up in it's new home.  
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I've had about a week to get used to it and I'm really digging the way it turned out.  I hung it up Monday before I went to work so it was kind of like a surprise when I got home since I hadn't really had time to determine if I liked it yet.  But I do.  A lot.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

- Brunch Club does Easter

One of the first things I learned about the city of Minneapolis when I interned here in 2008 was that pretty much every restaurant serves brunch - on both Saturday and Sunday morning.  This is perhaps one of the best things ever...because I love brunch.  Whether I go out for it or not, I pretty much always make it for myself on the weekends.

My group of work friends is made up completely of transplants and one of the ways we explore the city is to have brunch somewhere new every Sunday.  We've been doing it since last fall and haven't had a repeat yet.  We call ourselves the Brunch Club and whenever we do something else we call it "Brunch Club does..."

Since none of us went home this past weekend for the holiday, I hosted "Brunch Club does Easter" - a potluck style sit down brunch.

I decided to be fancy and spent the whole day before cleaning, throwing away the title for my car, and setting the table.  That's right, this was going to be official.  I even busted out my new "fine" china and bought flowers.
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Table before flowers.  For some reason I gave all my cloth napkins to Goodwill when I moved so I had to work with these cute printed ones I found at Ikea.
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Close up of the new china.  It's from Home Goods and I bought two place settings in each pattern.  Since that's only 4 places I mixed in some of my plain white stuff to end up with six places.  The goal is to look out for other white/metallic silver patterns so that I can continue to grow the set and mix and match.

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Pretty pink flowers on the table.  I bought a big bouquet and split it between the table and a vase in the living room.
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Brunch club did Easter - and we did it right.  It was an utterly perfect day filled with full plates, bellies and conversation.  Hope you enjoyed your holiday as much as we did!