Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I watched too many movies this weekend: '9' in the theater, and 'The Devil Wears Prada' and 'Ghost Rider' on TV. It was way too many movies, and I loved it.

It was not all sitting and watching images, though. I crafted, as well: I built an olive lamp, and I spray painted my suitcase. My lamp is burning as I type this.

I found '9' to be entertaining enough. I had watched the original short beforehand, to decide whether to go see the movie, and I was not disappointed. From the reviews, I did not have great plot expectations, but all I wanted was to find out who made the doll 9 and why, and so, I was satisfied, even though I agreed with the reviewers that the plot was otherwise quite shallow.

My lamp went through two incarnations. The first time, I used a single strand of floral wire to form a stand for the wick. For the wick, I cut a 1/4 inch strip of fabric from an old pair of underpants (worn out, but laundered!). While it worked fine, I thought was too flimsy, and the flame burned very close to the top of the oil. It seems that the fabric was too to wick as much oil as it needed. I threw out the wire and wick and tried again. This time, I braided three strips of wire together, and used a piece of 1/4" diameter 100% cotton cord (bought at Jo-Ann fabrics for $1.49 a yard, only to see it later at Wal-Mart for $0.37 a yard). It resulted in a much sturdier holder, and a better wick, I am pleased with it.

Side note: if any one wants to try making these oil lamps on a larger scale, the best way to get wicks is to buy a string mop head. One mop head costs about $5 at Wal-Mart, and can get a few hundred wicks from it.

The last time I flew, my "carry-on" was checked planeside. I was towards the back of the plane, so as I waited on the terminal ramp for the bags to be unloaded, I noticed that someone was walking away with what looked like my suitcase. But, as the nice announcer says "Many bags look alike", so, I ignored my doubts, and waited for the rest of the bags to be unloaded. The last bag left was a black one, similar to mine--but it wasn't mine. I took it, looked at the luggage tag, and called the woman whose bag it was. No answer. I began walking up to the terminal. I called again, said a brief hello, but was cut off. At the terminal, I told one of the flight attendants at the desk what had happened. They paged the woman on the airport intercom, but had no response. After calling the woman again (a relative answered), I found that she was already outside the security checkpoint. I had a connecting flight, and was already short on time, so there was no way for me to meet her outside and then pass through security again without missing my flight.

The attendants were not allowed to talk on a private cell phone, so I was directed by the attendant to tell the lady to drop off the suitcase at the lost baggage counter at the baggage claim, and then one of the attendants would go down to the baggage claim to return her suitcase.

The plus was that it was much easier running through the airport with no luggage dragging behind. I got on my connecting flight just in time.

I did not want to repeat this incident. I sat on the plane thinking about how this whole event have been avoided, I thought that I had to make my generic looking black suitcase distinctive. My first idea was to paint "Paws OFF!" in large letters on the front, and then paint a bunch of paw prints all over the suitcase. Thought that might be too blatant. The second idea was to take designer brand marks (Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Fendi , etc.), print them all over the suitcase, along with the large "NOT YOURS!" It would be a nice double entendre--I'm riding coach, the "NOT YOURS!" could refer to the suitcase is not anyone's brand, but also to whoever would freaking WALK AWAY WITH MY SUITCASE. Once I had calmed down, I decided that such a message might not show enough class, and that it might be better just to put designs on it.

The weekend I purchased stencils and a can of spray paint, and went outside to spray. I found that typical craft stencils don't work that well with spray paint--the spray area is much too large compared to the small area of the stencil, and there is a lot of waste. The area *around* the stencil opening was completely covered in paint, but the area *inside* the stencil cutout had only a dusting of paint. I eventually grew frustrated and took the dripping wet stencils and threw them in the outdoor dumpster. I didn't want to get spray paint drips inside my apartment.

To try to salvage what I had, I purchased a set of opaque fabric paint pens from Michael's to highlight the patterns. They worked very well.

It didn't occur to me until Monday that I could take a straw from a can of compressed air to direct the paint output. I took the can of compressed air, cut the straw in half, and taped the other half of the straw on my spray paint can. I will be buying another set of stencils and trying to paint again.

Does anyone know where one can purchase extra straws for aerosol cans? The best I could find was LDPE labratory tubing in the 1 mm size (the little tube on my compressed air can was about 2mm in outside diameter). I've heard people using coffee stirrer straws for as straw replacements for WD-40 cans.

I am now a fan of Ladies Home Journal. On Sunday I made Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Carrots. I chopped the raw chicken fine--Campbell's soup size--then dropped them in boiling water. They turned white almost instantly, but I let them boil for about 2 minutes, to be safe. I then used a slotted spoon to scoop out the chicken, and used the same water to boil the soba noodles. When they were done, I scooped out the noodles, and saved the broth. The recipe called for both scallions and cilantro, but since I love cilantro, I left out the scallions and put in half a bunch of cilantro instead. Also, I only had a medium 'grit' cheese grater, and I found that for shredding carrots, I probably needed a grater with larger holes. I think I will invest in a box grater in the future.

The resulting noodles were the best I'd had in a long time. I will definitely make it again.

Here is my lamp with the original wick. It burns surprisingly brightly, but the jar gets very hot.