DIY industrial pendant light

Lately I’ve been working on house projects that we’ve been meaning to tackle ever since we moved in a year ago (see bathroom painting). We go back and forth between “What’s the hurry? We have years ahead of us to get this stuff done!” and worrying that we’ll get so used to the status quo that we’ll cease to notice or care about some of the things that need to be fixed up (again, see bathroom painting). The kitchen lighting wasn’t something we had forgotten about, but I just wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. As usual, though, the internet provided lots of inspiration. I kept coming across images of swagged, bare bulbs in kitchens, and was particularly drawn to industrial-looking lights like these and these. So I decided to make my own. Here’s the before and after:
DIY industrial pendant light

DIY industrial pendant light

The original light would’ve been relatively inoffensive, if someone hadn’t been really sloppy with their painting. I sympathize with being too lazy to tape off fixtures (it’s sooo tempting because taping sucks), but come on, at least wipe off the paint. But the other issue was that after we replaced the other ceiling light in the room, a horrible giant flat fluorescent thing, with a nice Schoolhouse Electric one (in white porcelain), the room was a bit dimmer at night than was ideal for cooking. So this thing had to go. The question I had was how.
kitchen light 1
The answer was with a recessed light conversion kit and my own homemade ceiling medallion. (The one that came with the kit was too small for our hole.)
DIY industrial pendant light

kitchen light 3
Plus a ceiling canopy, porcelain sockets, and 18 feet of cloth-covered light cord. Yee-haw!
DIY industrial pendant light
Yep, I wired everything up myself. I’m no electrician, so I can’t give instructions on that part. Neither can the company the sells the parts, so I had to figure it out on my own (it wasn’t like I hadn’t wired anything before, though). A little diagram with the ceiling canopy would’ve been super helpful, because after I took it apart I spent forever trying to put it back together with a piece upside-down. My own fault entirely, but it could’ve been easier.

DIY industrial pendant light

The pipe is 3/4-inch galvanized plumbing pipe that I spray-painted black. When we were buying it we brought it to the paint department and a guy who worked there asked what we were painting, we told him, and he recommended Rust-oleum 2x Ultra Cover paint. When we got home I read the instructions on the back and it said specifically not to use it on galvanized metal. So I went back and bought this primer, which seemed to do the job. Always read the fine print before you leave the store!

DIY industrial pendant light

You might notice that at some point in the middle of this light project, I painted the window trim. Almost all of the rest of the moldings in the house are painted white, and this was in bad shape, with random paint drips and swipes, so it was a big improvement. It did slow down the project a bit, but I just couldn’t help myself. It was super tempting to start painting the walls, too, but self-control prevailed. That would just make me want to tackle the cabinets, darn it.

After dealing with painting the pipe, I wasn’t prepared for the frustration of attaching it to the ceiling. It was heavy, and holding it up while accurately measuring and marking its location was difficult. I almost gave up mid-way through, but thanks to Steven we finished it. I’m really glad we did, because this project made a huge difference to our kitchen. It provides just the right amount of nice, warm light and a cool industrial element that contrasts a bit (but not too much) with some of the house’s vintage styling. Hooray for DIY!

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The first time I saw this flavor combination, I thought it sounded really weird. But for some reason I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and give it a try. “Maybe this is just crazy enough to work,” I thought to myself as I put together the pizza. Obviously I was a big fan, otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing it here. It has no sauce and not very much cheese, and combined with the mint and asparagus flavors that makes it really light and refreshing, and perfect for spring. After all, what could be more representative of spring than asparagus?

asparagus mint hazelnut pizza
garden mint
This pizza also happens to be quite locally produced. The asparagus is from Washington state, the hazelnuts were grown in Oregon (as are 99% in the US, whoa), and the mint is from my yard. Last year I started growing some asparagus in my garden, but you can’t harvest it for a couple of years, so next year hopefully I can make this pizza hyper-local.

asparagus mint hazelnut pizza

Asparagus Pizza With Hazelnuts and Mint

Adapted from here.

1 16-ounce ball of pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 pound asparagus (about 1/2 bunch)
1/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped (no need to use toasted hazelnuts, as they’ll toast in the oven)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees for 30 minutes. (If you’re using a pizza stone, preheat that, too.) If your pizza dough has been refrigerated, let it sit, covered, at room temperature for about the same amount of time.

Snap the ends off the asparagus. If you have thin spears you can use them whole, or sliced in half. For thicker spears, shave them with a vegetable peeler from base to tip. Toss with about a teaspoon of olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste.

When the dough and oven have come to temperature, place the dough on a lightly floured countertop, and press outward into a thick disk, leaving a 1-inch unpressed area around the edge. Pick up the disk and let it drape over the backs of your hands, letting gravity help you stretch it into a circle that fits your pan (about 14-inches). If the dough resists, let it relax for a few minutes, then try again. If you’re baking on a pizza stone, place the stretched dough on a peel, overturned baking sheet or cutting board that’s lightly dusted with semolina or other flour. Otherwise, just build the pizza on a baking sheet brushed with olive oil.

Scatter the mozzarella over the pizza, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge, then top with the asparagus. Scatter the hazelnuts and feta cheese over the top. If using a pizza stone, give the peel or sheet a little shake to loosen the pizza and make sure it hasn’t stuck, then open the oven and gently tip the pizza onto your preheated stone (or, if not using a stone, simply transfer the pizza to the oven).

Bake until the crust bubbles and browns and the asparagus is cooked and starting to caramelize at the edges, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two. Scatter the mint over the top, then slice and serve.

asparagus mint hazelnut pizza


Today’s links are a little late because I visited Linework NW this morning. It continues tomorrow (Sunday, April 19), too, and it’s a cool event if you like illustration and/or comics. (But it is gloriously beautiful outside this weekend in Portland, so I can’t blame anybody for not wanting to spend any time inside.)

4-18-15 links

1. Give your sunglasses an upgrade with glitter.
2. What gorgeous marbled ribbon!
3. Make a set of cool moon phase magnets.
4. These cute triangle shelves make me want to build my own.
5. Get ready for outdoor living by making recycled citronella candles.
6. Hack Ikea with this white metal and wood plant stand.


This week I’ve been making a light fixture in our kitchen. Like everything in life, it has taken longer than expected. But in my defense, when I say “making a light fixture,” I don’t just mean buying a light fixture and installing it. We’re talking about installing an adapter for the old recessed light, then building and wiring my own light fixture from cord, sockets, and a canopy I ordered online. I even made my own ceiling medallion. This thing has been a labor of love, and I’m not quite done yet. But it’s almost there.

DIY kitchen light

So close that I even bought cool retro lightbulbs and lit it up.

DIY kitchen light

The bulbs are these, though I bought mine locally in Portland at Sunlan Lighting (otherwise known as “that lightbulb store on Mississippi everyone has walked by a million times but never been in.”)

This is really just a teaser for the full post on this project, because hopefully I’ll finish it up in the next few days and share the details next week.


Lately I’ve been seeing clothes with mesh inserts that I really like. It’s easy for sheer inserts to read as super sexy, but I’m especially drawn to the looser pieces that are more sporty or casual. A sewing pattern would be easy to modify to add inserts, or you could start with an existing garment and do some surgery with mesh fabric. The easiest piece to replicate would be something like this black Milly skirt, which you could make just by adding a mesh overlay or trim to the bottom of a pencil skirt. This Anthropologie tank would probably be a good place to start, too. With many types of fabric you can even get away with leaving the mesh unhemmed/unfinished on the edges, making the project even easier. I’m really making myself want to get sewing and add a little bit of the sheer trend to my wardrobe, how about you?
DIY Inspiration: Mesh Inserts
1. Norma Kamali dress | 2. Hervé Léger skirt | 3. Maje dress | 4. Kurt Geiger shoes | 5. ASOS tank | 6. Anthropologie tank
DIY Inspiration: Mesh Inserts
1. Urban Outfitters dress | 2. Milly skirt | 3. UO striped top | 4. ASOS dress | 5. Anthropologie dress

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