Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quick plug for NoMi lead testing

Hey all! I know I just posted an entry, but this is pretty important. There is going to be free lead testing on Saturday, Dec. 3 in the Webber-Camden neighborhood from 9-noon.

Lead poisoning is one of the leading causes of environmental developmental damage to children, and can poison adults as well. For residents of NoMi, testing is especially important because our houses are very old, and one of the more common causes of lead poisoning in children is consumption of lead-based paint.

Click here for all the details, and if you have kids, definitely bring them to this clinic - you won't regret the peace of mind you get from knowing that your kiddos are lead free!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Adventures in DIY - Hand Sewn Bear Hood

While cruising through the mall last week with a friend, I saw an adorable hat.

Anyone who knows me knows that there is a special spot in my heart for odd accessories. The hat in question was a cute faux fur hood with long scarf sleeves and bear ears. The only problem: the price. At $130, it was a steep tag, and so I passed it up.

Fast forward a week later, and I'm having a conversation with another friend about this hat. I still want it, but I can't justify the cost. My friend says to me, "That's only four or five seams. You could sew that, no problem." Thus began a quest - the quest to make the Bear Hat. Pictures of the assembly follow, and as always, you can click each picture to access a bigger one.

Drafting the pattern straight onto the faux fur. Probably not
my brightest idea, but I figured this was a simple enough
design that it would work out okay.

The hat has a flannel lining, made from flannel shirting
I bought from Jo-Ann fabric. I thought a cute touch
would be to add felt paw prints on the bottoms.

Sewing the paws on with contrasting red thread.


Finalized half of the hood. I added a topstitch to
this part to secure the lining.

To secure the ears, I cut a hole through the hood, and
stuffed the ear through. There were too many layers for
my poor machine to handle, so I had to hand stitch this part.

All done! I had originally planned to sew pockets into the
bottoms to keep my hands warm, but I made the tails a little
too long. It also sits a little weird, but in another session
I'll take some scissors to the hat and trim it so it fits better.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Redd's Week In Review

It's been a pretty crazy week here in our little corner of the Internet. Tonight I'll blog about the awesome stuff we did!

Seventh Street Entry - Blue Scholars, Bambu, Grynch, and Mally

Previous to getting here in town, Blu had raved about First Avenue as a venue for a while. He has played there before, but on top of that, he's a HUGE Prince fan and Purple Rain was filmed there.

First Avenue has played host to hundreds of amazing
 bands playing the Twin Cities.
Blu, the Prince fan.
So when I found out a hip-hop outfit that I am rather fond of was playing at the Seventh Street Entry, I bought tickets and requested the night off work.

Boy, am I glad I did! This show was epic, sold out, and had a ton of energy. The show opened up with Mally, a local hip hop artist that had a pretty big following of his own. Seattle artist Grynch followed, and was pretty great as well. But the highlight of my night, despite buying tickets specifically to see the Blue Scholars, was the artist called Bambu. He's from Los Angeles, just like me (I grew up in a small eastern suburb called La Puente), and according to Blu, a self described musical know-it-all, is one of the members of Cypress Hill.

I'm not going to lie here - Bambu is an angry, angry guy, but he's angry about all the right things. The topics he rhymes about are all very poignant social justice issues, from domestic violence to bullying to wage inequality in the US. These are all things we should be acutely aware of, especially when living in the city, where it's more difficult to turn a blind eye to the poor. 

After his performance though, he said something that I have to share with everyone reading. Listening to him or any other musical artist that preaches revolution is one thing - getting out and making the changes is another, completely. Anyone who considers themselves a community revitalizer or anyone that wants to become one needs to remember that change always starts with you. Those of us living in North, or any other Minneapolis neighborhood need to remember that to create a good neighborhood, we have to start by being good neighbors. That was my take home message. We may not be able to change the nation, but we can change our homes, and our blocks, and we just need to start with that.

The Lowry Café

I have been wanting to try this place since hearing about it from the realtor who first turned me on to North as a cool place to be. On Sunday, we finally got to have some eats, and they weren't too bad! It's classic diner fare, not too expensive, and close to home, all things I like to have in a restaurant. Food porn follows!

The Cafe features very spacious seating. You could probably
 squeeze 6 into this table.

This was some sort of sandwich...not quite up my alley but,
then again, I wasn't the one eating it.

Mushroom and swiss burger.

The Durango burger, which I was immediately envious of.

I was in the mood for breakfast, so I had a Denver omelette
with hollandaise sauce on top. The hash browns were AMAZING

The food here was good, but I'll skip the hollandaise next time - it didn't blow me away like the hollandaise from my two favorite Uptown haunts, The Egg and I and the Uptown Diner. The verdict here is: good food, good prices, close to home. I'll definitely visit again.

Minneapolis Indie Expo

The Twin Cities are home to lots of very talented artists in the community, many of which are involved in creating comic art. Blu, me, and our friends Daniel and Eleanor got to visit the Minneapolis Indie Expo on Sunday after lunch. It was pretty awesome, and I wish we would have gotten to stay for longer. We spent a few hours touring the various booths. I felt bad for taking pictures, so you won't see too many here.

MIX took place at the Soap Factory this year, an art space donated by Pillsbury in 1995. The Soap Factory hosts a lot of art shows and installations of Minnesotan artists, as well as artists all around the world. 

The place is boarded up quite creatively. If only they could do this
in our hood....
It's hard to emphasize that the place was PACKED. It was
awesome to see so many people interested in local artists!

I managed to score an awesome book, illustrated by Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon, Minneapolis artists. It's an intricately illustrated, highly technical (do these even go together? wow!) book about DNA - everything from structure, to replication, to the basics of genetics. If I had had this book during some of my more difficult molecular genetics classes they might have gone just a little easier...

Very, very cool.
They also had a similar book about evolution, as well as some cute children's titles at their booth as well. I am definitely looking forward to purchasing more art from these guys in the future.

That's it for now! I hope you enjoyed reading. In my next post, I'll write about my adventures in knitting and wonder at how the hell I'm going to dress myself for winter (I'm still in denial).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More winterization - and gushing about a contractor!

I've been pretty crazy busy with work the last few days, training in a different department in addition to my regular 40 hours. That isn't stopping us from continuing to get the house ready for winter, though - Blu installed our new water heater blanket today!

Snug and warm. We should have no trouble
keeping our water hot this winter!
Other things we plan on doing are insulating the basement water pipes, putting covers on the basement wells, and tuning up the furnace (after it's done being fully fixed, that is - we're so cold!). We have baseboard heating in the upstairs half-floor, where our office and master bedroom is, and both those units are functioning well if a little old. Eventually we may trade up to newer, more efficient units there.

So then, we're almost done!

Today we also were able to get our garage door fixed. Previous to our buying the place, it was a rental with a bit of a storied history, if the neighbors are to be believed. After the last tenants were evicted, they took it upon themselves to take as much as they could and break the rest, including flooding the basement by putting the garden hose through the window and turning it on. This is the major reason why the furnace is borked - a lot of the electrics were shorted out and had to be replaced. At this point almost all the innards on the furnace are fixed, the last part of which is the blower fan.

One of the other things that was broken was our garage door opener. The opener motor itself worked, but one of the motion sensors was broken, the transmitters were missing, and the entire trolley and swingarm assembly were gone. I have no experience with garage door work, never having had one before, so I kept that in the back of my mind.

Enter Lincoln Door, who I found working on a neighbor's door in the alley while I was driving to work one afternoon. I asked him if I could have a couple of cards, and he gave them to me, and asked if I was having problems with my garage door. I explained about the missing swingarm, and he rummaged through his truck and handed me one, just like that! He told me that if I had any problems, to just call him and ask.

However, while trying to install the swingarm myself, I discovered that the entire trolley assembly was missing as well. While Blu and I are not exactly the most eco-conscious people on the planet, we do prefer to fix things that are broken rather than replace them. We do this for different reasons, but honestly in this economy I would rather my money stay in the community than go out of it, and giving a repair person cash to fix a broken item in my books is much better than sending it to some faceless mega-corporation somewhere.

The part circled in red was missing, but the rest of the opener system
was in good shape. Click to embiggen
Lincoln came by our house this morning (after a bit of a mixup, but he profusely apologized for the miscommunication) and fixed our opener very quickly and for a very reasonable price. All the parts we needed were available used (and therefore free of charge, very cool), so all we paid for were his service fee and the cost of two new transmitters.

Blu and I have been totally burned in the past by scammy contractors, so when we get a good one it's absolutely imperative that I share their business with everyone I know. So, I wanted to take a second and heartily endorse Lincoln Door for helping us out - the garage door was big, heavy, and hard for me to lift, so being able to have the opener take care of the job for us instead is beyond convenient.

Stay tuned for more blogging - tomorrow I am taking off work a few hours early so Blu and I can go to the 7th Street Entry to see the Blue Scholars, a very awesome Seattle hip-hop outfit. Until then - have a great week!