Things I've been making, fixing, modding, breaking.

Vintage Lamp Repair


Mike got this amazing vintage lamp when we lived in New York, that sadly broke over the course of our many moves. I was feeling adventurous and decided to give fixing it a try. I followed these super well organized instructions on Instructables and got parts from Sunlan in Portland. Not only got it working, but I replaced the socket with a dimmer type. The whole operation was a lot easier than I anticipated!

Waxed Jean Shirt


Mike let me try waxing one of his wrinkly jean shirts with otter wax and the results are pretty cool. As you can see the wax darkens the denim color, but it also gives the shirt a lot more structure.

Rant Buddy


Mike and I made our roommate Johannes his very own Curb Your Enthusiasm Theme Song button to play in the house as needed, which is often.

Could you use this button in your home too? Download the source code here.

Super Hi-Vis Chucks


I love my all-black monochrome Chuck Taylors, but they don't exactly lend themselves to night-time bike safety as-is. But with these Brompton X Vespertine Reflective Shoelaces, Tenacious Tape Reflective Tape, and Albedo 100 Reflective Spray, these shoes transform into super-high visibility shoes when hit with a flash of light.

2018 01 22 Super Hi Vis Chucks Gif

Testing Aldebo 100 Reflective Spray


I commute by bike, and during the winter this means I spend a lot of time commuting in the dark. I have been trying out different ways to increase my visibility: various bike lights, wearable magnetic lights, reflective tape, reflective fabric -- but none of these options worked well with my favorite wool coat. Tapes don't adhere well to wool, and hi-tech looking lights take away from the natural aesthetic feel of the wool coat.

I gave the Albedo 100 Reflective Spray a try to see if this would be a good option. The paint is temporary - so relatively low risk - and supposedly invisible during the day.

Albedo 100 Reflective Spray on wool coat

I found that the paint was incredibly reflective, but not truly invisible by day. It kind of looks like I have a light dusting of fake snow where the paint is strongest. It's not ideal, but I'm not really sure you would notice if you weren't looking for it, and honestly I would say that the added visibility and safety is worth the trade off of having the slight discoloration by day.

Magnetic Gate Latch


My husband and I commute by bike, and this means going in and out of our gate throughout the day from both directions. Anyone who brings their bike inside regularly will be familiar with the physical maneuver that is hoisting the door open while you slide through with your bike. Usually this is okay in one direction, but a pain when you have to pull the door open towards you first before going through.

The time finally came this summer where the decorative inner section of our old gate broke and it was time to replace it. This time we opted for a gate that would swing both directions, like saloon doors. Ideally we could just push through the gate with our bikes in either direction, without any awkward gymnastics.

Once we replaced the gate however, we found that the spring mechanism wasn't really strong enough to close it quickly or keep it closed. This meant that our tiny dog or even a small gust of wind could push it open. And if we were to keep the latch in the locked position, then it would be hard to get through if you were on the wrong side of the gate.

We wondered: how could we latch the gate in way that was easy for an adult to push open from either side, but provided a strong enough force against wind and dogs? The folks that installed the new gate threw out a harebrained idea to use some kind of magnet since the new frame on the gate was steel. I tested with a few hard-drive magnets on-hand and although the force was weak, it was promising!

hard drive magnets to make a gate latch

After a little testing, we came up with this magnetic gate latch concoction: We got an aluminum carpet threshold as the base, this gave me a surface to mount the magnets to that wouldn't interact with the magnetic field. We got a lot of 24 identical Neodymium rare earth hard drive magnets and gorilla glued them to the threshold. We then wrapped skid-proof pads to the threshold to add friction and help slow down the gate as it passes by.

After screwing the threshold to the gate post, we gave it a test and it turned out to work great! It offered a solid amount of resistence that I can safely say my 6lb dog can't open, and it also snapped the gate shut after a few swings. Look how much snappier it is with the magnets:

If you're looking to make a gate that swings easily in both directions, I definitely recommend the magnetic solution as an option.

P.S. If you do use these hard drive magnets, watch your fingers as these magnets have a death grip pinch that will draw blood.

P.P.S If you happen to follow this design, one thing I found very helpful in slowing down the gate was to allow a little bit of "slack" in the aluminum threshold so that it could bow out slightly to meet the steel frame on the gate itself. This slowed down the gate much faster than when the aluminum threshold was completely flat against the post.

No Sew Dog Sweater


I recently cannibalized this sweater to line the hood of my new raincoat, and while doing so I noticed that the diameter of sleeves was strikingly close to the diameter of Lola's torso. One cut and two arm-holes later, Lola has a new sweater.

Waterproofing with Otter Wax


2018 01 07 Wax Jeans Animated

In my ongoing quest to avoid rain pants, I gave waxing a try. I used three layers of Otter Wax, ironing them in-between each layer. When the wax is first applied it looks light and cakey, but once ironed it disappeared into the fabric.

otter waxed jeans

I find that with the wax my jeans have a heavier, more structured feel and are fairly resistant to a light dusting of water.

In a heavy rain I found that they absorbed some water, but dried out pretty quickly (within an hour) once I got to work. Normally my jeans would have been soaked for most of the day. Given that most "rainy" days in the Pacific Northwest are pretty light, I would say this is a good alternative to rain paints.

Button Upgrades


Change your buttons, change your life.

Home Made Basketball Sweaters


Basketball season is upon us! To show our spirit, Mike and I made this home made LA Clippers sweater for Johannes and Portland Blazers hoodie from old skirts we found at the Goodwill.