Sunday, August 21, 2016

How to make a design magazine-worthy stool/table with $5 and an hour of your time

With $5 dollars in materials, a 5 year old and a 5 gallon bucket you can make this cool stool.

Written by Rob:

We wanted a small table/plant stand for our small balcony.  Our style is somewhat minimalist and we found options like this $250 side table from CB2 and this $250 Marcel Wanders stool as we shopped around online.  Then, we wondered if could make something cool ourselves.  We stumbled upon the "bucket stool" diy project online and the stool fit the bill.  We like the stool, which can be used indoors or outdoors and is compact.  Here's how to make it with our tips and lessons learned.

STEP 1:  Get the materials from any hardware store
-1 five gallon cylindrical bucket
-3, 16-inch long wooden dowels (~ø1.5")
-3 plumbing caps to fit dowels (optional)
-1 wire coat hanger
-1 bag of cement

STEP 2:  Get the tools
-1 marker
-1 five year old helper
-3 (or 6) clamps
-1 wooden stirring stick
-1 drill
-2 bandanas (optional)
-1 Tarp (optional)

STEP 3:  Make the legs
-Make a mark at the top of each dowel
-Drill a hole through the marks of the dowels
-Lace the coat hanger through all the dowels.  This optional step will secure the legs.
-Have the dowels taper up in a triangle formation
-Test to see if it is at a good height

STEP 4:  Fill bucket with cement
-Make a line with a marker in the bucket at 3 inches deep
-Fill the bucket with dry cement to the line
-Gradually add H2O while mixing
-Mix water and cement to a smoothie consistencey
-Keep mixing.  This is the hardest part

STEP 5:  Tap, tap, tap the bubbles out of the mixture
-Tap around the sides
-Tap around the bottom
-Tap some more
-Keep tapping
-When you think you're done tap for another minute

STEP 6: Stick in the legs
-Place the legs into the center
-Submerge the end about 1.5" deep
-Place the legs ends equidistant apart
-Use clamps or duct tape to secure the legs into position

Step 7: Wait, wait, wait
-After one day wait some more
-After a day and a half, wait
-After 48 hours it should be done

STEP 8: Time to unveil
-Stretch the edge of the bucket in multiple directions
-Tap the bottom
-Turn upside-down
-Pull up the bucket (may require some force)

STEP 9: Clean up time
-Scrape or sand the bottom edge of the cement (which is now the bottom of the stool)
-Sweep up cement crumbs
-Clean up your workspace

STEP 10: Stool time
-Sit on it
-Use it as an ottoman
-Place objects on it

This project was inspired by Homemade Modern's original bucket stool. See this link for more info.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Top 10 Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with Small Kids

I love the spirit of Brazil.  Before I was married, I lived on an island near Rio called Ilha Grande for just long enough to travel around a lot of the country, but not long enough to understand or be affected by the country's politics, economy, etc. My husband and I visited Brazil before we had kids.  Today, my son learns capoeira and learns Brazilian Portuguese, so we all enjoy Brazilian culture in our lives.  We took the kids (ages 2.5 years and almost 5 years at the time) and visited the country during spring break this year, about a hundred days before the Olympics started.

Here is my quick Top 11 list of things to do with kids during a 4-day trip to Rio de Janeiro.  We stayed in two fantastic airbnb apartments, one a block away from the beach in Ipanema and the other in the hillside neighborhood of Santa Teresa.  The neighborhoods have completely different vibes and I think it's worth staying in both.


1.  Take the cable cars (you take two of them to get to the very top) to Pão de Açucar or Sugarloaf in English.

2.  Visit Jesus at Corcovado.  You take a funicular/tram up to the statue, so the kids were really into that.


3.  Visit the botanical garden.  They have a little playground and there's endless open spaces for the kids to run around in.  We also saw huge monkeys just hanging out.  Like, monkeys you'd see in a zoo, except they were just out there.


4.  Ride the Bonde tram up to the Santa Teresa neighborhood.


5.  Walk up and down the folk artsy Escadaria Selarón in the Lapa neighborhood.

6.  Drink coconut water daily!


7.  Go to the beach!  We would go for an hour and play a little on the sand and then get on with our day.  You can make Rio a beach vacation, but for us, that's not the main appeal of Rio.


8.  Enjoy the food and drinks!  We had açaí, brigadeiros, pão de queijo, caipirinhas, pastels, coxinha, fresh-squeezed juices, etc.

9.  Get in a hammock.  I can't imagine a visit to Rio without spending many hours in a hammock.


10.  Enjoy the street art.


11. Pick up some Havaianas and some girls plastic shoes from Melissa.

Despite media craziness, Brazil is a wonderful place to visit with and without kids.  It's one of the most family-friendly cities we've ever been to (first time I've ever seen an airline let you borrow a stroller) and the people are insanely warm.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Weave be jammin': how to create gentle NYC street art

Usually, New York City street art means graffiti.  Sometimes, space invaders.  You usually don't think weavings when you think street art.  

But, I saw some weavings in a Brooklyn park and they made me want to make my own version and put them on the street.  The above weavings were made by my friend and I (mine's on the left). 

I haven't woven (is that the word?) since, oh, the 4th grade.  Based on my memory of how to weave, I improvised a little system using tape and a tray.  You can google all sorts of helpful weaving tutorials, though.

Wine and weaving night...or should I say wine and weave-ening...was a blast.  Making stuff and putting it on the street is surprisingly satisfying.  I highly recommend trying it yourself and/or with your kids.

Wine and weaving, a nice combination!

Taking our work to the streets

Adding a little surprise to the street was fun

I spied a class of elementary school students enjoying our weavings outside my window.  How fun!
So, the weavings that I saw hung in a neighborhood park, which inspired our weavings, were made by students at Textile Arts Center last summer, in a class taught by artist Neil Goss.  Thank you, Neil, for inspiring creativity. These are Neil's students' weavings that made me want to do my own version:

Suddenly, weavings seemed to be everywhere.  Shortly after we made our street weavings, the friend I made a weaving with sent me this picture from Colson Patisserie, also in our neighborhood.

Weavings displayed at Colson Patisserie after my friend and I made ours (photo by Elena)

How to get your very own New York City speed humps

You just need two years a dream to get your own set of speed humps in New York City!  I just got a set of two humps on my block and they are beautiful.

Something that freaks me out about living in New York is the crazy number of people who are killed by reckless drivers.  The fact that cars turn at full speed onto streets without slowing down at crosswalks in New York, a pedestrian city, drives me insane.  Also, cars would literally fly down our residential block at 45+ mph.  So, in January 2014, I looked into the process of getting speed humps on my block.

I was emboldened to make my request two years ago because I was inspired by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan for eliminating pedestrian deaths.  It made me think that there was a shift in perspective and that instead of pedestrians being treated as obstacles to car traffic that lives might be respected.  And I thought, there's no reason speed humps can't play a positive role in the attitude shift.

My first step was that I emailed the community board about my request.  (But, now I see you can also fill out a form online.)