Monthly Archives: January 2011

Bird curtains for the bathroom

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Dorothy and I both spent some time today sewing.  Worth spent some time today being a nuisance.  I think we’ve officially ended the sweet baby stage and entered the terrible toddler era.  He’s not walking yet, but his combination of seal-hop crawling and cruising gets him around quite well, and his toddler-esque curiosity is proving to be a menace to his health and the safety of everything in his path.  Here is a cute picture of Dorothy trying to sew (before you get too impressed with my preschooler’s skills, let me casually observe that there doesn’t seem to be any thread in the machine) while her brother hovers annoyingly around her, using a thread cone as a megaphone and trying to figure out the best way to get his fingers poked with a needle.

And the very first befores and afters of the new house!  Here is my downstairs bathroom before a paint job and new curtains…

and here is after.  I wouldn’t call the room “done,” because I’m still going to sew a coordinating bathtub mat, commission some frame-able bird art from my resident young artist, and find some sort of tray to coral toiletries on the back of the toilet, but the painting is done and the curtains are hung.  I used this fabric for the body of the curtains, and this for the scalloped edge, which I made using the very fancy (ahem) technique of tracing around a jar bottom.  The paint was left over from Dorothy’s old bedroom in our old house, and is Pastel Sage by Glidden.  I love how much fresher a room can feel after a new coat of paint!  Now when I get discouraged about the in-progress state of the rest of the house, at least I have one room I can visit to view progress.

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Chair pads again

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I recovered the seats of our dining room chairs last spring, and it was basically an exercise in uselessness.  The medium-weight upholstery fabric I’d used bunched over the decrepit old foam (I’d not bothered to replace it), and something about the nap of that particular fabric just seemed to attract cat hair even worse than what had been on there before.  The new dining room is headed for a different set of colors, too, so the orange hue wasn’t going to work.  This time I went out and bought brand new foam and I’m using a laminated cotton fabric, which is similar to oilcloth but lighter weight and more stretchy.  I don’t think cat hair will stay on it at all, and most spills should wipe up easily (here’s hoping), but I am a little concerned about the durability, given children with forks and cats with claws.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, I really love the Amy Butler fabric and I can’t wait to see it with the blue we’re going to paint the walls in this room.  (Note on that:  you can see the wallpaper in here. There is a certain vintage appeal to this paper, I guess, but I’m way too fickle about prints to have them pasted on the wall.  I need a clean, solid backdrop on the walls so I can choose other prints at will!  Besides, you can’t have flocked wallpaper and cats who rub up against walls.  Ick.)

Yesterday was a special day here.  We celebrated Rob’s birthday in the dining room, in full view of the kitchen through the new pass-through!  I still need to paint it (along with all the other surfaces in the rooms it joins–oy), but I already love it.  It’s amazing how much it changed our house!  Now I can see the sunlight from windows in every room of the first floor while I have breakfast at my kitchen table.  Dorothy made a paper chain for our birthday celebration and I hung it in the opening.  I can tell I’m going to need a couple nails, or maybe a tension rod, to hold this sort of temporary (yet eternal, ha ha) decoration.

On the death of the mural…

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…and the opening of my kitchen. Squee!

I got stood up by my contractor on Tuesday due to light rain, but for some reason the guys had no problem showing up this morning, the day of a forecast blizzard.  They left at lunch time for a break and some supplies and I haven’t seen them since, so I don’t know if they’ll be back (now that the forecasted snow has actually appeared) to frame it and finish the wall this afternoon or not.  Either way, I’m already loving this work in progress!  It’s so fun to watch a vision become reality, even when someone else has to do the hands-on work.  The whole house feels different now that the dining room and kitchen are open to one another.  The job will include a small counter for me to put food on so I can serve the dining room from the kitchen.  No more dinners with the four of us squeezed into the kitchen!  It just seemed odd for us to use the dining room when it felt so closed off, but now I know we will.

Speaking of snow, this is the view from my new bedroom.  Yes, I live within the limits of a fairly large city.  Yes, those are horses.  Miniature horses, actually.  Isn’t that wild?  Dorothy can watch them from her room too.  I have no idea why people in the city are raising miniature horses, but I do like watching them from the window.  Today they look cold.  I only see a few of them out there (we’ve counted seven total, I think?) so they must have somewhere sheltered they can go, but for whatever reason they are choosing to stand in the snow.  From my other bedroom window I can see the very elaborate all-season food gardens of some other neighbors.  They are raising chickens and some other caged bird (doves, maybe?) for meat, I assume, and have had covered winter lettuces growing until recently.  I love the vibrancy of this view and my multicultural neighborhood; it’s so unique!

This photo may look familiar.  It’s the mobile I made for Worth before he was born, and which was finished one month and seven days before his birth, January 20, 2010.  I needle-felted the animals and then made my very first blog post about it!  I recently realized that I’ve been blogging for one year, and that today is my blogiversary.  (Is that a word?)  I thought I’d give blogging a try, and just like that a year went by–with a baby, and some projects, a camper and a house.  I hope my blog focus returns to more crafty things soon, once things get more settled with the house.  Anyway, just for fun, I’m going to offer a giveaway in honor of the day.  During our move I found a small fabric handbag and a crocheted hat that I made but never gave to anyone; I will give one or the other (your choice) to the first person to comment on today’s post.

The fun stuff

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All over my house are signs of progress!  Or actually there are taped-up fabric “samples” I’ve printed off the internet and swathes of paint choices.  Here are some Heather Bailey prints I like for curtains and pillows in the living room, and we like the top shade of green.

The dining room, in which I’ll make curtains from this awesome old tablecloth.  Rob and I are both loving the bright shade of blue on the top, although we’d not expected to choose something with that much intensity.  He did ask if I was trying to bring the camper look indoors.  (I’m not, I’m just enjoying bright shades of blue right now!)

And the family room, which will be the same buttery yellow we’ve grown attached to in our last two houses.  I like the fabric print I had taped up here but we decided on a different one for the curtains, one that brings in punches of brown and black to tie in our mish-mash of furniture.  It’s very large-scale (think plate-sized flowers) and tropical, but this huge back room needs something big, bold, and warm. 

A friend of mine has a theory about interior house colors corresponding to the colors a woman likes to wear, but my history of using mostly fall colors inside (and on me) seems to be giving over to a new era of springs and summers in this house.  I’m excited about all the bright happiness, and I’m glad that all these choices are easy to change if we tire of them.  If we reach a day when we decide we simply can’t eat dinner in a robin’s egg blue room one more time, at least no wallpaper removal will be involved!

Oy vey mural

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First and foremost today, I’d like to come clean about something I referenced a couple months ago.  I mentioned back in November that a Major Life Change was coming to our family that I could not yet discuss.  Now that it has come to pass it’s no longer a secret!  The man fondly known as Daddy in this family has been hankering after more independence in his work life for quite some time.  This fall he and a friend concocted a plan to team up and start their own law firm.  We’ve been excitedly plotting and planning this professional move, but we knew that our mortgage company wouldn’t exactly be excited to hand over money to borrowers who just embarked on an adventure of self-employment, so we thought we might have to put our personal moving plans on hold if we didn’t sell by mid-November.  Just about the time we thought we really were going to have to rearrange our old house a bit and commit to a couple more years of extreme coziness, we sold!  You all know that part of the story.  On the professional side, Rob gave notice at work the week after we closed on the house and is now happily hitting the pavement, building his business.  We expect a rough period while he gets started, but it seems like a small price to pay for all the adult members of our family to be in vocational situations that make them feel happy and fulfilled.

On the home front, I’d been really determined to only peel wallpaper in one room at a time.  I figured it was better to have intact wallpaper in most rooms than rooms of half-peeled wallpaper.  Rob still couldn’t resist, picking here and there at loose edges.  Then last night I finally gave in and declared open season on wallpaper.  Now we’re peeling and picking all over the place and I have no idea when all this will end.  I got all the wallpaper down in one bathroom last night, though, so at least I know where to go once I decide to declare open season on sanding and paint preparation.  For kicks, here is the mural in the kitchen. I think I’ve referred to it several times during this move extravaganza.  Unfortunately it seems stuck on pretty tightly, but it’s comin’ down.  Most of the wallpaper in the house is dated but pretty in its own way.  This is really the only one that makes me wonder what on earth they were thinking.  The longer I look at it, the more I just don’t understand.  🙂

Our craft studio and play space in the new basement is far from being set up, but it too is finally starting to take some sort of shape.  We have a comfy futon down there by the fireplace, the toys are out of boxes, the craft table is set up, though not much more.  Dorothy was eager to try it out, so today I set her up with some paint and a (previously blue) shelf we’d found at the thrift store.  We’re going to hang the shelf in her room to hold her little knick knacks.

I also started unpacking fabric to put on my new shelves.  I’m not sure what these recessed places in my studio wall did before (maybe hold unattached shelves?), but my brother came over and put nice sturdy shelves in them so I will have dedicated space to store my fabric out where I can see it and access it.  I feel  spoiled!  I was so eager to put the fabric out I almost didn’t paint the shelves first, but I know it would be a lot harder to go back and do it later, so I went ahead and painted before I began unloading my treasures onto the clean, painted shelves.

Lite my fire

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Happy New Year!  I’ve been doing really un-bloggable things lately like unpack boxes, but things at the new house are progressing.  For one thing we got new appliances.  Now I’m a girl who likes old things–vintage, used, recycled, repurposed…I’m usually all over that.  But the appliances in this house just crossed some sort of line for me.  They weren’t like old/vintage, they were just like old/nasty.  The stove in particular bothered me.  It’s not all the old-style knobs and dials, which are rather fetching, nor the retro “futuristic” font.  It’s the fact that in the late 1970s, the previous owner of this house installed a cutting-edge stove that included an early microwave oven right there in the oven cavity, and that I was concerned about accidentally radiating my family each time I turned it on.  Tucked in the folder of paperwork that came from this house was even a letter, dated 1980, from the range manufacturer informing the previous homeowners that their microwave oven was no longer up to code.  Apparently it lacked appropriate locking mechanisms.  Yikes.  So this old stove just had to go, although I did feel like it should have gone to some appliance museum instead of the inglorious end it met by being hauled away by the new appliance delivery guy

I was super-excited about the new stove, which I thought I chose with care. We had the plumber run a gas line to the kitchen so I could get a gas range, which is something I really missed in our last house.  My appliance dreams included a long, middle gas burner with a built-in griddle pan, which this new stove has.  As I got to know my new stove better, however, I realized it wasn’t going to make all my kitchen dreams come true.  I do love the griddle, and the whoosh of flame that looks like “real” cooking in ways an electric burner never will.  But the stove is also some odd appliance equivalent of look-alike new construction housing developments (aka, not my cup of tea).  It says “lite” instead of “light,” or “on” or “ignite,” which seems needlessly stupid–couldn’t they have made the font smaller or something?

But I was willing to forgive “lite” until I saw this.  My new range has a “chicken nuggets” feature.  WTF, you might ask?  I turned to my trusty appliance manual.  This feature apparently brings the oven to the correct temperature to heat “convenience-style” chicken nuggets, then keeps them warm for up to three hours.  I’m not sure at this point which is worse–an early microwave oven that may leach radiation, or a stove that has a special feature to “cook” frozen, breaded chicken bits without human interference.  Having never purchased “convenience-style” chicken nuggets myself, I’m starting to suspect this stove was not meant for me.  I’m going to suspend judgment, though.  There is still the griddle, and “lite” seems to ignite a healthy flame that I can use to cook my own less-convenient family favorites.

Finally, wallpaper demolition started today!  The main living rooms are feeling unpacked and comfortable enough now that I felt like we could take the move-in to a new level.  My own dear Mum started peeling paper in the living room, and I’m afraid it’s going to be quite a task.  This is her wrestling with the liner.  Underneath all that liner, however, is a lovely plaster wall that should like quite nice once it is painted sage green.  At some point!