Posts tagged ‘design’

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

tossed and found

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

That’s a pretty good adage when it comes to making the most of our possessions.  But what about the re-make aspect?  To me, that’s where the real fun lies.  I think the Wary Meyers agree.

They found not only the use-ability but also the humor in their used up stuff.  Their new book, Wary Meyers’ Tossed and Found Book is definitely on my Wish List.  I especially love the how-to sketches and behind-the-scenes planning pages.

By scrounging through flea markets and trash bins the Meyers have found items that lived a great life and given them a whole new existence.  Basketball hoop turned side table anyone?  From garden to dining table – ceiling?

If you’re inspired, check out a great article about John and Linda Meyers on Design*Sponge.

via Make

Monday, September 14, 2009

taking a stand

tv easel

We don’t have a TV.  That’s why we’re forced to eat at a favorite pizza place when the husband’s favorite football team is playing.  It’s a hardship all around.  But if we ever do decide we need a TV I’m definitely going to remember this idea.  I bet I could even find an old easel on Craigslist.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

concrete tumblers

concrete tumbler

These truly have my design wheels spinning.  Thick glass with a concrete base.  If any of you get creative and try this at home I’d love to hear about it.

via Charles&Marie

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

a look back to see our future?

make do

I love the sentiment of this poster.  It’s the mantra of many Compactors and frugalistas.  In fact I love this poster.  The color just screams creative to me.  It’s a hand pulled print on recycled card stock by Bold&Noble available at their Etsy shop.

Does handmade by an artist fit within your Compact confines?  Or does the quote itself (a reference from a much earlier wartime motto) contain the answer?

Simplicity - Nick Dewar

Then there’s this one.  How great is that?  This piece is from the Dec/Jan issue of ReadyMade:

The magazine asked five designers to use The Great Depression’s populist poster art as inspiration for depicting our current economic and cultural times.  Link to the posters online to download PDFs for free.

This is what Nick Dewar had to say about his Simplicity piece:

“I hope that America is entering a post-’greed is good’ period.  I can’t think of a single step that would change the nature of our society more than everyone abandoning their automobiles and cycling instead.  There would be less dependence on oil, obesity levels would drop dramatically, and reflective bike clips would replace fancy ladies’ purses as the current must-have fashion accessory.”  {see more of Nick’s work at}

Free, cool and funny.  I’ll take two.

Monday, June 8, 2009

monday – menus and more


Well, I can’t say anything unexpected happened this past week.  But it was a good week.  I finally got around to making the mobile for the nursery I’ve been thinking about doing for almost two years.  Better late than never.  The husband and Toddler L both seem to really like it and I think it worked out quite well.  In true artist fashion I can’t get overly effusive about my work, it could always be better but it’s good enough to put up in the house.

I can’t say the same for Sunday’s dinner.  It was supposed to be crock pot brisket from a chuck roast.  I liked the idea of it but unfortunately didn’t quite get the proportions right.   Because I cook smaller quantities as it’s just husband and I, I’m usually adjusting recipe amounts and cooking times.  Unfortunately, leaving the house to go watch the Lakers’ game threw off my cooking time adjustment.  What was supposed to be brisket was headed towards beef jerky.  Not that I don’t like beef jerky, it just wasn’t what I was planning for supper.  Good thing we were having mashed cauliflower with it, that can save just about any meal.  Hopefully this week’s experiments will have better results.

Let’s see what we’ll be eating…

Monday:  chicken strips, chicken rice-a-roni (I know this isn’t even real food but I love it, so about once a year I make it)

Tuesday:  yellow curry

Wednesday:  pizza (not sure if I’ll be going thin crust or deep dish yet)

Thursday:  penne w/ spinach and sausage, artisan bread

Friday:  whole wheat pancakes (didn’t get to these last week)

Saturday:  we’ll be out at an adults-only birthday party (probably my last for a while, so I’ll savor it)

Sunday:  HOHO (husband on his own)

I got a great deal on a used pizza stone on Ebay (you’d be surprised how hard it is to find used stones), so I’m really looking forward to starting a home-made pizza tradition.  And I’m even going to make more bread in the oven.  I’m not sure I won’t use the artisan bread dough or bread machine for the kneading but it will come out of the oven and maybe even be the shape of a loaf pan.

I think that’s my only complaint about the bread machine.  Bread just isn’t a square block that’s 9 inches tall.  Well, mine is.  But it kinda rubs me the wrong way.  The husband already knows I’m keeping my eyes open for another machine with a horizontal pan.  You may have no idea what I’m talking about.  That’s okay.  Sometimes I just talk for the sake of it.


In the continuing ups and downs of our budget, we are under this week.  I’m feeling really good about that but I’m also wondering at what expense am I doing this?  Let me explain.

Our budget was $80, we spent…

Sprouts Farmers Market – $47.42 (savings = $0.15)

Vons – $17.44 (savings = $8.58)

Trader Joe’s – $13.78

A grand total of $78.64.  This week I didn’t buy any meat and I didn’t even buy several things I had coupons for.  Now, they weren’t things we specifically needed this week but they were good deals on things we would use.  If I had purchased them, along with a couple of things I would have liked to buy I would have been over budget.  So I didn’t get the frozen peaches to make smoothies with.  I didn’t get the Nutella that both husband and I love to indulge with occasionally.

How do I get everything we need plus allow a few (not over the top) indulgences and still feel good about the money we’re spending – or not spending?  I have said before, there are a few things I’ve decided are worth the extra money.  Typically that’s buying organic when I can.  We buy only organic milk and eggs.  A gallon of whole milk (for Toddler L), a gallon of 1% milk (for the husband and cooking) and a carton of eggs is $15 of any given week’s budget, if they’re not on sale.  Ouch!  I’d like to buy organic produce more often but it’s just not financially feasible.

How do you justify what you spend versus what you buy?  Or do you not bother and wonder what I’m tying myself up in knots over?


I don’t have an art budget because my projects just don’t happen as frequently as I’d like.  That’s probably a good thing, at least as far as the checkbook goes.  My creative energy can get a little backed up though without an outlet.  I’m sure it helps that I rearrange the furniture every 3 months.  (I blame Toddler L and his ever changing needs, but it’s probably just my needs.)

What I’m trying (slowly) to get at is my need for another project.  A project that requires fabric.  Fabric that I can create and custom print.  I don’t really sew but I’d like to change that too.


I know it’s not entirely Compact to have more fabric made than already exists, but sometimes what can be had at the local thrift store just isn’t going to meet the needs.  When that’s the case, turn to Spoonflower.  Upload your napkin doodles, illustrations or patterns and get your own custom fabric in the mail in a few days.  There’s no minimum order and a price per yard higher than I would typically pay ($18-32), but within reason for a truly special project.

Would you consider having your own custom fabric made or is this just my design voice locking my Compact voice in a dark room and telling it to shut-up?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

how green are you willing to go?

Gabrielle, over at Design Mom, took the plunge and went green.

And it’s gorgeous.


An old family piano that was in need of expensive restoration or replacement, both of which were out of the family’s budget, became a signature piece with just a little time and paint.

Unless your piece is a valuable antique don’t be afraid to get creative.  For the cost of a quart of paint (or less if you go Compact in how you acquire paint), you can be green, blue or cherry red.  Why replace, when you can re-do?

What can you add a little color too?

*I recommend low VOC paint for your projects.  Even if you’re not going green you can still be environmental about it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

write a book

I loved this idea from Sara Hicks Malone (of Party Perfect) to create a “first words” book for my son.


Although I wasn’t crazy about the cost of using an online service to print it.  And I know Toddler L’s penchant for tearing pages, so a board book would really be best.

I found this post about a custom book by Erin Jang (via Jordan Ferney) that solved my problems.

baloo book

Did you know you can buy blank board books?  Used ones too.

I’m not exactly sure how a blank board book could be considered used, but I’m going to find out. Do people buy the book, realize there’s no pictures and return it?

And now the search is on for a used Scrabble game.  I like the idea of having this game anyway and I can use the letters for this project.  Double win.

Let’s hope I can find Scrabble or some letter tiles before Toddler L learns how to write his own book.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

when drawing on the walls is okay

I’ve been wanting to get back into the design side of compact by design.  As a designer myself I can’t help but search out and be inspired by ideas of what can be done with a little creativity.  And if I can do it for less, so much the better.  I hope to bring you some great ideas of things you can do around your own home that don’t break the bank or the tenets of the Compact.  (I can’t promise I won’t bend the rules sometimes.)

Many of you may have heard about this guy in Kentucky who used his mad skills with a Sharpie to decorate his boring basement walls.

Sharpie basement2

It is certainly creative.  And daunting.  I don’t have that kind of talent.  But if you do, why not go for it?  How cool would it be in a small (boring) bathroom to give your guests some unique reading material?  Create your own comic strip and add to it as inspiration strikes.

For those of you who like something a little more high end.  Or just have less mad skills.  Or both.  How about going big like Kellie did with a few hours of time and a metallic paint pen?


Inspired by a favorite wallpaper print and the courage to try something different Kellie took a drab space and really made it sing.  I’ve always been one to paint regardless of rental agreements (my designer bones can rarely handle white walls for months on end), so this is something I am definitely adding to my mental file drawer for future use.  What a great fix for the long hallway – the bane of many homes.

Have some great design tricks that are Compact approved?  Send me [calimama @ gmail . com] the info and some pics, I will give you all the credit and share your good work.

Monday, April 13, 2009

monday – menus and more


Hello from Portland!

This will be an abridged Monday post as we are in Portland until Tuesday and therefore I haven’t done any shopping.  It’s hard to plan a menu without knowing what the sales fliers have to say but I do have some thoughts just based on what I know is in the kitchen back home.  Here’s what I’ve got so far…

Wednesday – pasta (something easy and painless as it will be a busy day of resettling)

Thursday – eggs in spicy tomato sauce (didn’t have this last week)

And that’s it as we are back on the road come Friday.  At least my grocery budget will be way under.  We’ll have to address the eating-out budget another time.

♦ ♦ ♦

In other news, I love a good hotel.  And that doesn’t mean super fancy with excellent room-service.  This is ‘good people’ kind of good.

Our accommodations in Portland were approved almost entirely based on the fact that the hotel is LEED Certified Silver.  (Don’t worry, explanation to follow.)  The Avalon Hotel + Spa is one of ten hotels in the world that has LEED certification.


One of the hottest trends in design is “Going Green”.  The U.S. Green Building Council developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ten years ago to provide a set of standards for environmentally sustainable construction.  When a construction project is Certified LEED it means they are compliant with these standards.

There are four levels of LEED certification:

  • Certified
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum

Five different design areas are evaluated within a construction project to determine each level of rating.  The five design areas are:

  • sustainability of the site
  • water efficiency
  • energy and atmosphere
  • materials and resources
  • indoor environmental quality

The higher the rating in each area the more credits a building earns. Each level of certification requires a higher number of credits. LEED Certification at any of the ratings requires rigorous attention and adherence to environmentally sound construction practices.

That’s all well and good, but what you really notice is how their commitment affects your stay.  The more common practices of placing cards on the bed and bath about washing sheets and towels are to be found, but so is a recycling bin in each room.  And they offer the most ingenious toiletry option – a soap bar that has a giant hole in the middle.  It’s really just a ring of soap.

Think back to the last time you were in a hotel for a night.  Did you use the offered soap?  Probably didn’t use the entire bar with one shower.  Didn’t take the leftovers home either, did you?  They got thrown away along with the 467 other half used bars of soap from that day’s housekeeping.  This soap eliminates that leftover bar.  I love it.  It’s probably cheaper than buying a full bar of soap anyway.  I’m sure this is going to be the new standard in hospitality.  Just as soon as every hotel offers in-room recycling.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

creative license with the compact

Talking about how Compact my life is can be…well, compact.  Sometimes there’s just not much there.  Because of my husband’s and my decision to have another child instead of sending me back to work (thank you husband!), we are also living a more cost conscious life.  Call it frugal if you must.  I call it…our life.

So this blog has become something of a morphosis project for me.  It is a platform for me to talk about what’s on my mind.  Whatever that is.  Like, how can we get back to Laura Ingalls as a role model for our little girls instead of Britney Spears.  No, that wasn’t really on my mind.  But now it is.  Glad I have boys.

All digressions aside, I just don’t have anything to say about how living a Compact life has affected me today.  Instead, I”ll tell you how it’s going to affect me in the future.  Here are six projects I’d like to try.  Why are they Compact?  Because they all involve using recycled materials.  And isn’t that the basis of how to live a Compact life?  That was rhetorical, I just want to see how many times I can say Compact in one post.


You still there??

Thought I’d lost you.  Back to the projects…


I am a sucker for a monogram.  I might be working on this one tomorrow. Round up scraps of pretty patterned paper and a few frames. Cut a piece of patterned paper to fit the frame opening. Die-cut or hand-cut an oversize monogram and, if desired, a mat. Mount the initial to the patterned-paper background with adhesive foam, add the mat, if using, and slide the assembly into the frame.


I have a mission.  Collect as many frame pendants and frame pendant wanna-be’s that the thrift stores have to offer.  This may take a while, but I think this project might be worth it.  Love the charm of it.  (sorry couldn’t resist.) Use up even the tiniest pieces of leftover or favorite fabrics with these wineglass charms. Cut small squares of selected areas of the fabric and insert each into a frame pendant. Earring-hoop wire threaded through the pendant loop makes it easy to attach the charm to a wineglass stem.


I love decorative balls.  All the different kinds Crate and Barrel, Anthroplogie, Z Gallerie and every other corner design store have been pushing as must haves for the well photographed home.  Now who’s got the last laugh?  And the last dollar saved? An easy craft to make, these fabric-wrapped balls use up scraps from your stash and can be displayed in a pretty bowl. Cut strips from coordinating fabrics and use glue to adhere them to foam balls. Select a variety of fabric patterns and use both small and large balls for extra interest.


This is a definite favorite!  I always said I can’t draw without a ruler.  Now they have an even better use in my studio. Use a miter box to cut old yardsticks to length, creating colorful and graphic photo mats that turn basic frames into works of art.


Next time I see a Hannah Montana suitcase at the thrift store I’m grabbing it.  I always worried about the girls that just had to have such things.  Guess they have a higher purpose after all. A small suitcase from a secondhand store becomes a graphic and colorful storage unit when prettied up with paper and paint. Remove and paint the hardware. Decoupage the case with scrapbook paper. Replace the hardware, securing it with metal glue and decorative brads painted the same color.


I’m more of a favorite old mug kinda gal, but any excuse to have a wood plane sitting on my desk has my attention. Turn an old wood plane into an all-in-one desk set simply by drilling a few holes. Look for inexpensive or damaged planes at flea markets, garage sales, and auctions.

All images and ideas borrowed directly from the Better Homes and Gardens website.

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