small improvement: rattan radiator cover.

    October 19, 2021

    We have four small radiators in our apartment, though for most winter days, the heat pipes servicing them would be plenty to heat the apartment. When we moved in, the radiator in the kids’ room had a simple wooden and perforated aluminum cover which was serviceable enough, but which left plenty of room for improvement. The stained wood didn’t match the painted trim and the faux-brass aluminum was unstapled in spots leaving the sheet dented in some places and bulging in others. I painted the wooden surround and the aluminum sheet as a first attempt at cleaning it up a bit, but when Calder pushed the whole sheet inward while learning to stand last winter, I decided I’d look for something to replace it. Just in time for the heat to turn on this fall, I found it. This is a small improvement that’s fairly specific to our needs, but a variation on this fix might prove useful to folks facing a similar dilemma, so here are the details:

    When the radiators turned off last spring, I removed the aluminum sheet entirely and lived with it open for months before deciding on a solution. First I considered drilling simple holes in a sheet of thin plywood and painting the whole thing to look more like cabinetry. (Similar to what I did with this old dresser.) I love the simple design on these pierced pantry doors designed by deVOL kitchens and wondered if I could replicate it with enough holes for venting, but I was concerned that veneered plywood and high heat might not be an ideal combination and decided to look elsewhere. For a while I toyed with the idea of a using galvanized steel hardware cloth, but predicted that it might heat up and that little fingers would as easily find their way through it, and I worried it might read as something that should be in a country kitchen, or worse, a barnyard. I decided to skip that too. Finally, I decided to try a sheet of natural rattan. With this option, I was slightly worried about dating the room in the wrong era, but I chose a natural radio weave rattan with a square webbing, which I think ultimately feels simple and subtle enough.

    The rattan ships rolled and so I soaked it for about thirty minutes to make it soft and pliable before installing. To secure it to the wooden frame, I used a staple gun and made sure to pull the rattan taut as I fastened it into place. A few hours later the rattan was dry and the sheet had tightened like a drum over the opening of the cover.

    It was a small improvement with immediate room-changing results, which is all I could really hope for.

    Do you have genius radiator solutions? Tell me!

    my week in objects (mostly).

    October 15, 2021

    1. these little beauties.

    {because one woman’s weeds…}

    2. these rainbows.

    {because ’tis their season.}

    5. this collection of perfect pins.

    {just cause.}

    4. this box of supplies.

    {for currently living under the couch.}

    5. this old blanket.

    {because ’tis also its season.}

    other things:

    we need to process what has happened and what keeps happening.

    the stress-free family meal plan.


    maybe the best socks i’ve seen.

    night bloomers.

    concentrating on reaching the high-up figs.

    a costume checklist.

    small improvements: mending throw pillows.

    October 14, 2021

    We’re in the season of patched up scarecrows and stitched together monsters, and, less spooky, patched throw pillows.

    I added a new ticking stripe throw pillow to our couch a few weeks ago, which has been lovely for lounging with, but which also threw into relief the threadbare corners of the pillows it joined. Our older cases all date from when Faye was a baby—two in plain canvas and one in striped linen. Through seven years of use as fort walls and nursing props and pillow fight battering rams, they’ve held up remarkably well, but like so many things in my home over the past year, they’ve started to show the signs of wear.

    So when a box full of fabric remnants for a different project arrived from Fog Linen recently, I got immediately to work adding patches to my pillows. I first tried my hand at machine sewing the patches, but my machine balked at having to go through so many of layers of fabric at once and I didn’t feel like deconstructing and reconstructing the pillows in their entirety.

    Instead, I picked up the sashiko needle and thread Katrina Rodabaugh sent my way with her delightful book last spring and got to work by hand, patching my threadbare corners over the course of an evening. I’ve rarely been so pleased with a small improvement.

    I appreciate a throw pillow’s usefulness and I’m not so much of an ascetic as to deny myself some basic comfort, but I’m not usually drawn to throw pillows as decorative items. I don’t collect them or swap them in or out seasonally. I’m not someone to follow (or offer) the common directive of regularly zhushing up a couch with new pillows and so while I do love our new pillow, the patched up counterparts offer something that all new replacement pillows never could have. All patched up, there’s something about the reinforced corners that feels comforting and, dare I say, human. Maybe I’ve finally lost it, but it’s reassuring to see something turn more lovely thanks to its age and a little effort. Overnight my plain throw pillows have become more interesting and more my own, each patch a little signifier of thrift and resourcefulness and simple, honest work.

    For the curious:

    My new patchwork asymmetrical ticking stripe pillow case in ticking stripe was a gift to me from Toast.

    For anyone in need, Fog Linen sells fabric remnants in large and small bundles that are helpful for lots of things and patches in particular. For anyone needing inspiration in the form of Japanese textiles and tradition, Fog Linen’s own Yumiko Sekine’s book Simplicity at Home is gorgeous.

    For anyone needing more details on the mending, Make Thrift Mend is clothing-specific but endlessly inspirational and applicable all over the home.

    This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links.

  • make your own: simple cheesecloth ghosts.

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    October 12, 2021 7 Comments
  • my week in objects (mostly).

    1. these toilet paper rolls. {because in the hierarchy of craft supply toilet paper rolls, they’re at the top.} 2. this name practice. {and school being back in session.} 3. this borrowed dress. {and…

    October 8, 2021 7 Comments
  • make your own: canvas tissue box cover.

    I’m not telling you need to make a tissue box cover, just that having one might make your next head cold a little easier to bear. Last week—or was it the week before—the whole…

    October 7, 2021 0 Comments
  • my week in objects (mostly).

    1. these sharpened pencils. {all ready to go, all at the same time.} 2. this rearranged pinboard. {for letting in new and old ideas.} 3. these little lights. {and finally just going for it…

    October 1, 2021 2 Comments
  • make-believe: a night at the opera.

    A few days ago, on a total whim, a very dear friend and I decided we’d splurge on tickets to the opera. This part of the story is not make believe. Our nose bleed…

    September 30, 2021 8 Comments