Thursday, October 30, 2014

Scrabble Tiles Wall Decor

Some of the window treatment pieces, ready for the lodge
I decided to take another break from reporting on our recent Washington D.C. trip, to share with you all another little project I recently completed.

If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you may recall that back in the Spring, a long term building project was finally completed, and we spent a week moving furniture, appliances, and many other items into our new family vacation lodge.

One of my responsibilities with the new lodge was to construct all the window dressings.  I like to sew and create, so this was a good challenge for me.

This curtain left me with plenty of scraps.
Then, of course, there were plenty of leftover fabric scraps.  My grandmother, who years ago taught me much of I know about sewing, always found creative uses for all those leftover pieces.  So, when I looked at the scraps from those orange curtain pieces on the curtain in that photo above, and when I saw a large empty "something should be there" space in that bathroom wall, an idea came to me.

I gathered up the few supplies I'd be needing for this little project - a plain, square picture frame, some of the leftover orange fabric, scrabble-type wooden letters, and my trusty glue gun.

I had somewhere come across (or possibly made up, it's highly possible) a word that was new to me, and that always made me laugh when it came to mind, the word "deslobification."  I picture a bathroom as a place where one walks into it as a slob, cleans oneself up, and exits with all things in order = one is deslobified.  It is, therefore, a place of "DESLOBIFICATION."  Isn't that an awesome word?  I wonder if it's in any dictionaries, anywhere.  I'll have to check.

Anyway, next I made sure I had enough of the letters I needed for the message on my wall sign.

After that, I attached a piece of the leftover curtain fabric over the cardboard in the picture frame, and placed the letter tiles in the positions where I wanted them to be.

Being careful to keep the wooden tiles away from the border edges, I glued the letters in place and inserted the message into the frame.

There is it, simple and done.  A good use of the leftover fabric, and a quirky and fun addition to a very blank wall that needed a little sumthin sumthin.  It hangs right beside the bathroom vanity.

Do you think anyone will notice?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Postcards From Washington D.C. - National Building Museum

National Building Museum
My husband has been a do-it-yourselfer ever since the early days of our home ownership, mostly because having four young mouths to feed didn't leave a lot of cash left over to pay repair and renovation contractors.  So, I thought he might enjoy visiting another of D.C.'s hidden museum gems, the National Building Museum.

After a 28 minute metro ride, we exited at the Judiciary Square stop, and paid our $8.00 per person entrance fee into the museum.  Oh yes, and subjected ourselves to the customary airport type security check of our bags and persons.

The National Building Museum is America's leading cultural institution devoted to building and design.  Visitors from around the world learn about everything to do with architecture, engineering, and construction.  This landmark building has held all sorts of official gatherings, including many of the presidential inaugural balls, mainly because of its large size and stately features.

View of the Great Hall
Before visiting any of the six gallery exhibits, we joined up with a small group to take a one hour docent led tour of the building itself.  This tour took gave us access to all the floors, including the private fourth floor.

View of the Great Hall from the fourth floor walkway
We learned all about the history of the building, and viewed some of the building's unique architectural aspects.

Fountain in the Great Hall

Design at the top of the columns
Busts in the highest level
Design on the building exterior
The day we visited this museum, there were six active exhibit galleries, along with various other programs for adults and families.

In "Designing For Disaster," we saw clearly how design can, and does, reduce our risk and increase our resiliency to the most destructive forces of nature.  From seismic retrofits and safe rooms to firebreaks and floodplain management, this gallery showcases how regional, community, and individual preparedness are the best antidotes to disaster.  It was kinda fun to build small model houses and then turn on the tiny hurricane simulator to see which homes would blow away.

In "Cool and Collected:  Recent Acquisitions," the museum's storage room opened to the public with a display of some special objects.  Dozens of objects from the Museum's collection - from a 9 foot tall statue to a tiny dollhouse chair - illustrate the various ways we can learn about architecture and design.  I always get a kick out of some of those very detailed doll houses and their furnishings.

One of the building method displays
The "House and Home" exhibit featured an extensive array of photographs, objects, models, and films that take visitors on a tour of houses both familiar and surprising, through past and present.  Here we explored American domestic life and residential architecture.

Basically this museum had everything relative to buildings, how to build them, and things that are inside them.  I particularly enjoyed looking at the collection of vintage things that can be found in many people's homes.  I guess I didn't realize that some of MY stuff is really that old.

Next:  The Crime Museum

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Postcards From Washington D.C. - Union Station/Archives/Sculpture Garden

Exterior walkway of the Union Station
After our very full morning at the Postal Museum, (see yesterday's blog entry), we needed a lunch and we needed it fast.  What with driving to the metro station, parking, walking to the metro, riding the metro, walking to the Postal Museum, and spending three or so hours in the Museum, we were downright hungry by now.

A short walk nearby to Union Station was an easy dining solution.  This is a massive building, an impressive work of architecture, housing the Amtrak train station, and three floors of shopping and dining options.  It reminded me of an airport, but all the folks there dragging around their suitcases were rail passengers.  The hubby was in dining options overload.  I purchased my lunch selection, got seated, and ate half my lunch before he could even decide what he wanted.

Everything we did on this day - the Postal Museum, lunch at Union Station, the Archives of the United States, and a walk through the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden - was all within comfortable walking distance of one metro station.  (And that statement comes from someone who had achilles surgery just one year ago!)

National Archives Museum
After lunch we walked a long block and a half to visit the Archives of the United States of America.  I had one goal in mind - to see those three important documents housed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.  This is a semicircular heavily guarded room designed specifically for the permanent public display of the Charters of Freedom - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights.  A whole lotta amazing history right there in that one room.  Note: photos were strictly forbidden, so these next several photos of what we saw are from the internet.

The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom
Even though I knew these documents were historic, because I was so lackluster in history class as a youngster, I had to refresh my memory about these three important papers.

The Declaration of Independence, 1776, announced the separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain and the establishment of the United States of America.  The Declaration articulates the highest ideals of the Revolution - liberty, equality, and the right to self-determination.  We were able to actually read some of the sentences, and could just about still see some of the original signatures.

The United States Constitution, 1787, codified the spirit of the American Revolution in an ingenious, practical scheme of government to promote the welfare of all its citizens.  Considered one of the most influential legal documents of all time, it has served as a model for over 100 countries.  It. Was. Sitting. Right. There. In. Front. Of. Us.  Wow.

The Magna Carta
The Bill of Rights, 1789, spelled out the rights of individual citizens.  The First Congress of the United States proposed 12 constitutional amendments.  Of those, 10 were ratified and are known as the Bill of Rights.  It almost took my breath away looking at these documents.

After seeing those three famous papers, I almost lost interest in seeing the rest of the things in that museum, but we did nose around a bit and explored all sorts of other historic papers, records, letters, and audio and video tapes in the collections there.

One such document, the Magna Carta, was on display in the "Records of Rights" gallery.  The 1297 Magna Carta - one of only a few remaining copies - was on display courtesy of David M. Rubenstein.  This important document inspired the Founding Fathers to assert their freedom.

We had seen enough to keep us thinking about those major historical events in our country, and we needed a cup of coffee and a bit of a rest.

Across the street from the Archives is located the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art, and within the garden is the Pavillion Cafe, where we found the coffee we needed.

I found a table and seats out on the patio of the cafe and amused myself watching the antics of this albino squirrel while Bob fetched our coffees.  We have grey, red, and black squirrels in our area, but never before have I seen a white one.  Yes, he had pink eyes, too.

After a bit, we took a leisurely stroll through the garden before returning back to our campsite via metro.  I'm not usually a fan of modern art, but we did get a kick out of some of the pieces in this park.

Here's a small sampling of what we saw.

Anybody remember these typewriter erasers?

The World's Largest Spider?

A shiny metallic tree:

Probably the most bizarre offering was the last one we passed.  I don't remember for sure, but its title was simply "Women" or "Headless Women."  Looking at the display first then reading its title on the label, I felt somewhat disgusted and angry.  My interpretation is that the artist doesn't think very much of women, somehow.  I'd really like to know what the artist was thinking, and if somebody has a different impression than mine.

Notice there are two other sculptures visible behind these "women."  

Next:  National Building Museum

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Postcards From Washington D.C. - The National Postal Museum

Entrance to the National Postal Museum
You don't hear of many folks talking about their visit to the National Postal Museum Washington D.C.  Most tourists visit the Air and Space Museum, or the Museum of Natural History.  However, after reading about another blogger's adventure visiting this free Smithsonian museum, we knew it needed to be on our itinerary.

This is a HUGE place, filled with numerous floors and many galleries of interesting stuff.  What a collection!  Everything to do with mail is in here - from the very first stamp issued EVER, to famous and notorious things that have gone through the mail, to the current modes and methods of sorting and moving mail.

I'm not a stamp collector, yet I found so, so many things of interest in this place.  I could've spent days in here looking at everything there was to see.  This museum is a highly under-advertised gem in the area.  A warning to readers:  I was enjoying myself so much I went a little overboard with my camera.

After an airline-type-security check of our bags and our bodies, we were permitted to enter the museum.  It was almost a sensory overload as soon as we crossed into the lobby.  Humongous pictures of stamps from all over were hanging from the ceilings.  We were in the "World of Stamps" gallery.

Next, in the "Stamps Around the Globe" room, we learned that Great Britain issued the very first stamp, on May 1, 1840.

Certainly, any stamp collector would love to add this stamp to his collection:

Continuing through the exhibits on this floor, we entered the "Mail Marks History" area.  All kinds of famous mail and mail wrappings were displayed in unique ways.  Some pieces were in drawers we could pull out of old looking trunks or suitcases.

One display contained the actual packaging from the mailing of the Hope Diamond.  Can you imagine sending that thing through the mail system?  How would you answer the clerk at the post office when you are asked if you need insurance on your package?

I was fascinated by this piece of mail, which had actually been carried by horseback in a mail pouch on a portion of the pony express.

In the next gallery, "Connect With U.S. Stamps" computers were available with software allowing us to design our own stamps.  Bob and I both took a turn.

After designing our stamps, we were able to send them to our email inbox, where we could print them out, if desired.  We just enjoyed looking at our silly old selves on stamps.

Next we headed into the "National Stamp Salon" where the National Stamp Collection is housed.  This small poster described the amazing collection we were about to see.  Of course, there were security guards all around the area.

So many drawers full of oodles of stamps.  It was hard to believe that there have been so many different stamps in the years since that very first stamp was issued in 1840.

We tried to look in the drawers and find some of the very oldest and most coveted stamps.  Here are some:

As we left this floor of the museum and headed towards the lower level, we passed this colorful collection of old mailboxes.

Before descending to the lower level, we had this balcony view of the "Mail in America" gallery.  This museum just gets better and better!

In the "Moving the Mail" display area, we saw all sorts of old and new conveyances for getting mail to its destination, including some of the earliest mail drop planes.

There were mail delivery vans, old and new.

We sat inside a railroad mail car and watched an interesting and informative video on how railway postal workers sorted mail, organized, and delivered it in cars just like this one.

Stage coaches often had a sack of mail onboard to be taken along with passengers to the next station.

An area was devoted to the Pony Express era of mail delivery, with an interesting walk thru scene, "Mail Call," that recreated a mail delivery into a remote wooded area.  Apparently the riders would use a system of notching or marking trees along their way into these areas so that they would have some sure way of finding their trail back out to the main route.

Relative to mail delivery in the modern era, the cab of a large tractor trailer mail truck was open for visitors to explore.  I cannot deny that I've always wanted to have an opportunity to sit up in the front of one of those massive trucks barreling down the highway.

With all those display panels and knobs and gadgets, I felt like I could be in the cockpit of a jumbo jet.  As you can see, the husband/lover/driver is having way too much fun.

Finally, on our way out, we passed the actual stuffed remains of Owney the Dog, the mascot of the railway mail service for many years, and this collection of international mail boxes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this museum, and if our stomachs hadn't been growling from the many hours that had passed since our breakfasts, we probably would have spent more time in there.  If you're ever in the area, go see this museum.

Next:  Union Station
           Archives of the United States of America
           The Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Little Crafty - Washi Tape Wall Decor

Today I'm taking a break from posting about our Washington D.C. trip, because I just got swept up in a moment of craftiness, and have to show you all.

The new shower curtain
Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I have some sort of obsession with washi tape.  I don't know what it is about those colored tapes that gets me, but I love putting together simple crafts using those fun little tapes.

Recently I redecorated our upstairs bathroom, and when all the new towels and accessories were finally in place, I looked around and realized I still needed a little sumthin sumthin.

As you can see there in the photo, the shower curtain is full of lovely bright colors, but the opposite wall of the room is just one long boring, beige stretch.  I needed some pictures.

So, go get the washi tape, of course.  Those large flowers there on the curtain were sending me some inspiration.

I needed two picture frames for this project, which I found at a BOGO (buy one, get one free) sale at my local craft store.  That was basically the only cash I laid out for this adventure, as I already had the colored scrapbook papers and a good assortment of colored and printed washi tapes.

First I removed the mat from the picture frame and cut a piece of colored scrapbook paper to fit behind it.  I used tape to affix the paper to the back of the mat.

Next I selected the rolls of tape I wanted to use.  I tore several pieces off of each roll and stuck them onto a piece of waxed paper.  I learned long ago that it's easier to cut shapes from washi
tape if it's stuck onto something sturdy rather than to try cutting them right off the roll.  As you can see, I've already cut out one of the leaf shapes.

Then I cut out whatever shapes were needed, peeled them off the waxed paper and stuck them down to build together the flower.  I didn't have a firm plan when I started, other than what colors to use.

And finally, after a very relaxing hour or so, here is the first finished flower.

I started again with the second frame, removing the mat and adding the background paper.  Using differently colored tapes, I constructed a second flower.  Somewhat similar to the first, but unique in its own way, too.

Finally, I carefully installed the matted flowers behind the glass and into their frames.  There they are on that wall that so badly needed them, and I am pretty pleased with the way they turned out.  They added just the pop of color I wanted to go with the pattern on the shower curtain.

These are the kinds of crafts I enjoy doing the most - cheap, quick, uncomplicated, and the end product is useful and looks good.

Now, here's another crafty scene that I cannot make any sense of.  I took this photo along the road during one of my recent road trips, and I have no idea what this is all about.  What do you think?

Strange stuff there.