Into to DIY- Low Cost Atmosphere

I go through phases.  Some come and go quickly, others tend to linger, and there are a couple that keep coming back.  The desire to decorate our apartment is one that comes, lingers, recedes and then does it all again.  Usually when it’s around I don’t make much progress beyond thoroughly cleaning our apartment.  I always feel like that is the real pinch point in my progress.

Realistically, while I really do enjoy a clean apartment it’s more that I’m indecisive about what style and colors I want and I don’t want to spend the money.  Case in point- you should ask Cathrine how long I’ve wanted to get pillow cases for our throw pillows on our couch.  Whenever I think I’m close to actually picking out a pair, I end up not committing and following through by purchasing them.  It may seem strange but I’m afraid of commitment- what if I don’t like them as much as I think I do? The material is scratchy? Or they don’t match our nonexistent rug underneath the couch? (Also still to be purchased…once I find the pillowcases)  You see, there are many factors that my brain thinks of whenever I’m about to go through with a purchase- it’s like it has a built in list of reasons and it succeeds every time in stalling the purchase.

So, you can imagine that in light of this imaginary list and fear of commitment to make a purchase, how excited I was when I came across this project on Pinterest.  It’s free, relatively simple to do, and would add some more character to our deck.  I’d say our deck is the one space in our apartment that’s actually decorated.

Of course, when I came across this project we had just taken out our recycling so I was starting from the beginning with collecting cans.  I didn’t want to lose any momentum so over the course of two weeks; I developed a shopping list with some of our favorite recipes with the requirement that they called for some type of canned ingredient-

  •       organic garbanzo beans for homemade hummus
  •       organic coconut milk for Thai Mahi Mahi (x2)
  •       organic coconut milk for a chia seed smoothie
  •       organic black beans to add to a quinoa and veggie bowl with a peanut almond milk sauce

*as a side note- I can provide the recipes for these in a later post.

I quickly accumulated 5 empty cans- a number I thought would work well on our deck.  It’s relatively small.  I was ready to start my project.

Step 1: After rinsing the cans, I peeled off the labeling.  I couldn’t get the entire label off but I thought that was alright because I would put that part in the back.

Step 2: Then I filled them with tap water and put them on the freezer.

Step 3: Using a pencil and ruler, I made a pattern on a piece of paper that I measured to be the circumference of the can.  I decided to go with a chevron pattern.  I know, I’m totally late to this pattern trend but I’m currently into it.  I then marked points on the pattern where I wanted to make holes using.

Cathrine went through the same process but instead of making a chevron pattern she decided to make a series of spirals.

Step 4: After the water had frozen in the can, I tightly wrapped the pattern around the can and taped it.  I placed the can on an old hand towel to help keep it in place.

Step 5: Using a hammer and three different sizes of nails, I made holes in the can following my pattern.  I kept the remaining cans in the freezer to make sure they stayed frozen which I worked on one can at a time.

Step 6: Next I ran hot water on the can to melt the frozen water.  Then I d
ried the can and added a tea candle.

Step 7: Finished product

Image      Image

I’m really happy with how they came out and I think they really do add quite a bit to our deck.  We have been having really nice summer temperatures so we have been enjoying dinning by candlelight in the evening.

It really is the small things in life to get you excited.  Momentum: 1, fear of commitment: 0.

Project cost- $0

The cans were part of recipes that we enjoyed and we had a package of tea lights on hand.

*the original project instructions can be found on this website:



Welcome to Long Beach….

East Ocean Blvd, Bluff Park

We’ve lived in our neighborhood of Long Beach now for almost a year.  It’s the longest I’ve lived in one place in the last 10+ years, including 4 others in California, and Cate’s second location since moving out west.  We live in the Bluff Park area, which is a predominantly residential district by the harbor filled with a mix of historic homes, including some stunningly maintained craftsmans and small-scale apartment complexes.  It has a safe pleasant feel, and even a few ‘real’ trees beside the ubiquitous rows of Mexican palms.

We can both agree Long Beach in general, and Bluff Park specifically is the most ‘livable’ place we’ve been in SoCal.  Despite being close to several urban centers, the traffic is lighter, restaurants and coffee shops are within walking distance and the residents are an eclectic mix.   We thought we’d start off our posts with a shout out to a few of our favorite places for coffee, dinner and drinks.  If you have knowledge of the area, we’d love to hear your advice on more to add since a year isn’t that long in a place as diverse and growing as Long Beach!

Coffee- Always important to find a good local coffee shop when you move someplace new.  Luckily for us, it seems like half of the nightlife (and day…life for that matter) happens in Long Beach’s many independent coffeehouses.  In particular, we enjoy Hot Java on Broadway for a quick fix & local vibe.  If you’re a carnivore, try the bacon, chive, and cheddar scones (phosphate-free of course) they have on weekends.  For food & hipster/artsy atmosphere, Portfolio on 4th and its sister cafe Berlin are good bets.  Bring your appetite and tapered jeans.  They also serve quality illy coffee, which is great iced.  Also worth mentioning is Greenhouse in the East Village (formerly Sipology) who’s loft is a great place to read or work.  What’s striking about the coffee culture here in general is that they are open and busy late, but don’t serve alcohol like some cafe/bars that are this popular in other cities.

Food- There’s plenty of this around, so we’ll just pick a couple to start with (there will be plenty more restaurant reviews).  Our most frequented spots are some on 4th St’s ‘Retro Row’ which we can walk to.  In particular we enjoy Lola’s Mexican, which has a quiet back patio that’s great for groups, ‘wine margaritas’ and good zucchini and mushroom tacos for the discerning vegetarian.  Our other usual spot is just a few doors down at ‘Number 9’ for modern vietnamese.  Simple concept here, like it says on the windows- ‘Noodles + Beer.”  The Pho is veggie-friendly, though on a busy night this small dining room can get loud!  To counteract this, No. 9 is part of a Long Beach initiative to add ‘parklets’ outside of popular local restaurants, and so will have quieter outside dining soon!  Also notable places for vegan/vegetarian menus are Steamed and Zephyr, both in the East Village, very casual and reasonably priced.  Zephyr has the broader menu, but be prepared to wait a few minutes for your food on a busier night.

Drinks- Long Beach has its share of bars of all kinds, and especially in Downtown and Belmont Shore, an impressive amount of nightlife.  However, some of the more unique and honestly best run places are the wine bars.  In particular, District Wine on Linden tops the list for us when we want a night out.  The staff are extremely friendly, the wine list is good, and their happy hour prices are reasonable.  They have a modest food menu as well, and we’ve enjoyed just about everything we’ve tried.  The decor could belong in a much bigger city, with dark wood accents and exposed brick.  Go early when it’s quiet, and stay on into the night as the place fills up with locals enjoying a classy but relaxed night out!