Bright lights, big city

A few weeks ago, Tim and I went to Las Vegas to meet up with Becky and Andrew. We had a good trip… a variety of planned and unplanned activities, including the Mob Museum, Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere, a trip to a ramen restaurant, dinner in the Airstream, and loads of people-watching.

My favorite part of this trip, however, was easily the Neon Museum. It’s an hour-long guided tour that offers a unique perspective on Vegas history.

The Neon Museum sign incorporates elements of famous Vegas signs - a nice nod to history.

The Neon Museum sign incorporates elements of famous Vegas signs – a nice nod to history.

The whole space has tons of great visual appeal. Even the unrestored signs have wonderful color and architectural components. Here are a few of my favorites:

Loved the oranges and blues in this grouping.

Loved the oranges and blues in this grouping.

Signs weren't limited to the casinos... this one advertised a long-time Vegas eatery with only two items on the menu. You guessed it- steak and chicken.

Signs weren’t limited to the casinos… this one advertised a long-time Vegas eatery with only two meals on the menu. You guessed it: steak and chicken.

Binion's Horseshoe Casino

Binion’s Horseshoe Casino.

Giant cocktail glass, anyone?

Giant cocktail glass, anyone?

Star detail.

Star detail.

The Sahara sign.

The Sahara sign.

Cool font.

Cool font.

Color and contrast.. sharp shadows.

Color and contrast.. sharp shadows.

Next time I get to Vegas, I’m hoping to hit up another kitschy attraction: the Burlesque Hall of Fame. I haven’t made it there yet, despite my best efforts. I’ll try again in January!

 

Advertisements

The desk is done!

One of the things I decided to do when I accepted a job working from home: make a new desk. I know nothing about desk-building, but I’m pretty resourceful (and stubborn) and Tim has lots of tools, and how hard can it be, right? Yeah.

So, six months later, I have a desk.

I knew I wanted something funky that combined different woods and metal. I like interesting juxtapositions. And That was about all I had in mind when I started. I visited Bingham Lumber in Brookline, New Hampshire to pick out wood for the desktop. Everyone there was really helpful, and I loved their reverence for old wood. I opted for walnut and some white oak.

Tim decided that the top part of the desk really needed to be smooth, well-joined, and functional, or I would go crazy trying to use it every day. He joined the three boards for me and sanded everything down to a beautiful silky finish.

Tim sanding the top of my desk.

Tim sanding the top of my desk.

frame.

Simple frame.

Then I put a frame on the underside of the top to offer some additional stability (and a way to attach legs). I didn’t get fancy with the frame, just used some 1″x2″ we had in the loft in the garage. I planned to wrap the edge of the desk in molding that would cover that frame later. Next, I had to sort out the legs. That took a while. I knew I wanted some kind of metal, but wasn’t sure what – and I knew metal would be harder to work with than wood. Hmmm. Maybe just some kind of metal element? Old brackets? Fence parts? Rusty something interesting?

Trench grates. Awesome steampunky industrial heavy intricate trench grates.

They're 7.5 pounds each. Beefy.

They’re 7.5 pounds each. Beefy.

How do I incorporate these puppies into the legs? Uhhh… yeah, I had no idea. I went to Home Depot and started looking for wood that could work. I found some 2″ square poplar in a length that felt desk-height-y.

trying out ideas for the legs.

trying out ideas for the legs.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of recessing the grates into the legs. Tim and I could do it, but it would have taken a long time and probably ended in marital strife. Things really stalled, as neither one of us was looking forward to a weekend of meltdowns.

My attempt at illustration.

My attempt at illustration.

Then the wonderful and talented Jack Younger had some free time and took pity on me/us. He even understood my wacky drawings… Yeah. Bonus points there.

While Jack was working on the legs, I gave the top of the desk a few coats of Tung oil to bring out the grain of the wood. The legs and the molding got different flavors of Danish oil to create a variety of tones and add depth… I wanted all kinds of grains and hues in this desk. No matching here.

Leg parts, drying after Danish oil baths.

Leg parts, drying after Danish oil baths.

Finally: assembly time. Tim spent the day helping Jack with studio projects, leaving me alone so I could work at my own pace and figure things out for myself. It took longer than I expected, and some of my plans changed as I tried things and found that they didn’t go quite as well as I thought they would.

Those galvanized plates holding the trench grates in place? Not part of the original plan, but worked well with the concept of different woods/metals together. Also, they kept the trench grates from falling out on my feet.

Those galvanized plates holding the trench grates in place? Not part of the original plan, but worked well with the concept of different woods/metals together. Also, they kept the trench grates from falling out on my feet.

Finally, after a day of sawdust, sweating and swearing, she was done.

The final product, on location.

The final product, on location.

A closer view of the top.

A closer view of the top.

It’s a standing desk, so I needed to raise the monitor to a more comfortable height. Cigar boxes from our neighbor were just the right size and let me incorporate more cool wood into the design. I’m thrilled with the way the desk came out – everything about it is funky, unique, and functional. It’s exactly what I wanted. So cool to have an awesome work space that I MADE.

Next up… converting the old desk into a glamorous vanity.

 

Eye shadow adventures, round 1

I got great feedback yesterday from some lovely ladies on how to achieve the eye looks I’m after. Thanks to Lisa for sharing a link to Makeup Geek… I found her Retro Inspired Look tutorial really helpful.

My friend Carole, a puppeteer (and wardrobe and makeup wonder), pointed me in the direction of the right brushes. I found a set at Target that’s conveniently labeled so I don’t have to figure out what each one is for on my own.

And here’s my first pass at eye shadow with multiple shades:

 

20140719-083426-30866113.jpg

20140719-083426-30866505.jpg

Eye shadow evolution

So, I may have mentioned this before, but I am severely lacking in some of the key skills required for pin-up perfection. Most notably, I suck at hair. In addition, my eye makeup application borders on remedial.

To counteract my hairstyling ineptitude, I stick with a bob and try different variations with every haircut. Easy.

The eye makeup is another matter. My technique has not evolved much since high school, when I’d swipe a dark color eye shadow across my lid, smudge too much eyeliner under my lashes, swipe on some mascara and go. While I’ve learned to use a little more restraint with the liner and occasionally go for the waterline instead of below the lower lashes, I haven’t really progressed. No sophisticated, contoured, come-hither smoky eyes for me.

I’ve made a few haphazard attempts to try something different in the past, mostly with eye shadow remnants from ancient sets. I never felt like it looked right, so I gave up and went back to my old ways, even as I acknowledged that I didn’t have the right tools or makeup colors to make myself look the way I wanted to. A friend and his lady came up to visit over the weekend and I noticed her eye makeup. It was exactly what I want to be able to do… subtle use of different colors. I told myself I’d have to try again.

And then, last night, I found this:

Nude eyeshadow palette

The inspiration.

All the right colors. Cheap, so if I get frustrated and give up after a week, I’m not out $50 for one of the crazy Urban Decay palettes I look at every time I’m in Sephora. And best of all…

It has instructions on the back for numbskulls like me.

I'm pretty good at following instructions. Sometimes.

I’m pretty good at following instructions. Sometimes.

I’ll post photos of various attempts to follow instructions in the next few days. I have a master’s degree. How hard can this be?

The Owl Diner in Lowell, Mass

I am in love.

Yesterday morning I was supposed to meet someone for breakfast and had to pick a venue – I had never been to this place, but Tim recommended it. And now I am furious that he’s been holding out on me for the last 10 years and never brought me to this amazing diner!

The Four Sisters – Owl Diner is everything a diner should be (except open 24/7). It’s a diner car, with an addition built on, and most of the interior has wonderful classic décor… great tile work, beautiful mid-century table and countertops, and, of course, plenty of chrome.

And the food is delicious. Check out the omelets, all named for streets in Lowell. I had the Pine Street (broccoli, mushrooms, and cheese) and loved it. The home fries have the perfect texture and plenty of flavor, too. Add in attentive, down-to-earth staff and you’ve got yourself a win.

I wish I had taken pictures, but I was there for a business meeting and didn’t want to seem rude. Now I have an excuse to go back… I can’t wait to take Becky and Andrew here.

Flea market pin-ups

Yesterday we hit the Hollis Flea Market and I discovered these two beautiful ladies… One by Vargas and one by Alex Raymond.

Vargas calendar page and Alex Raymond pin-up

Vargas calendar page and Alex Raymond pin-up

I hadn’t heard of Alex Raymond before, but soon learned that he was well-known as a comic book artist; mainly for his work on Flash Gordon in the 1930s. The Vargas page has a bit of spotting on the paper and there’s a small hole in the Raymond piece, but they’ll still look lovely framed. I’m running out of room in my office!

A classic camera

Over the long weekend, Tim and I got to connect with our friend John Chaos. He and another friend joined us Saturday night for dinner and some vicious Cards Against Humanity, then we met up again on Sunday for bowling.

Part of Chaos’ charm is that he remembers things about people that you don’t expect him to. In his whirlwind trips to classic car shows, rockabilly riots, bowling alleys, flea markets, and other assorted mischief, he’ll pick up something just because it reminds him of someone.

On Saturday night, he surprised me with a very cool vintage camera, complete with carrying case:

So cool!

So cool!

Beautiful...both aesthetically and in condition.

Beautiful…both aesthetically and in condition.

I love the red around the Kodak name.

I love the red around the Kodak name.

When Chaos saw this camera, he recalled that I have a similar one. This one belonged to my grandmother; I have it on display in my office:

Vintage Kodak camera

My grandmother’s camera.

Now Norma’s camera has a companion to keep it company. Very cool. I’m also envisioning these as great props for a pin-up photo shoot.