Top Social



I have been a little absent on this blog lately.  And I am really behind on emails….and commenting.  Sigh.

But this would be one of the reasons why.


A new (to me) Bernina.  Isn’t she pretty?

Not planned, but when you hang out with people who sew and are in the know these things happen.

You see when my friend and fellow KCMQG officer Jaime mentioned that they had gotten some pre-owned mechanical Berninas in that were in great shape, I got really excited. Granted you probably think I am crazy for wanting to give up a 25 year Kenmore that my mother bought for the purpose of hemming uniforms and dance costumes and caused much cursing in the craft room.  But I admit it that I wanted it.  However, we had just gotten back from Italy and I decided that it did not fall into the “need” category.  I just would not think about it.

But then a week later my friend Lauren emailed me.  She had taken the plunge.  She could not stop raving about what an amazing machine it was.  And Lauren is a persuasive and hilarious girl (not to mention an talented fabric designer) so I knew that I had to go see it at least.  You know just to look at it.

And I will admit it was amazing.   And I have a birthday coming up.  So Jaime helped my buckle it in the back seat and it came home with me.


So I have been playing with it (and not blogging) ever since.

Of course, to go with our new machines we made a trek out to a great fabric store in Lawrence.  Fabric stores make me happy.  Especially when you have a good machine sew with.


The one downside to this whole thing?  I can no longer blame my sewing inadequacies on a crappy machine.  Which I did frequently and now the truth will be out.  I guess I will just have to get better.  And hope that my friends can help me in that department as well…..


A Lot of Bits of Randomness


Projects are back in full swing at our house and I can’t wait to share what we have been up to.  That explains my lack of posting this week (and the fact that being back at work is kicking my butt in the time arena).  So while we finish up stuff here, I have some random thoughts.  Which I am going to attempt to string together in some coherent form.  Here goes:

1.  We learned a valuable lesson last week.  Curtains really shrink when you wash them.  Even if they are labeled as machine-washable.

Case in point-  Our office curtains were slightly dirty due to two years of this.IMG_2801

I am pretty embarrassed it took us two years to actually wash them and not just lint roll them.  Since they pooled on the ground previously, I assumed some shrinking would not be a big deal. 

But now our curtains are waiting for a flood.



Well since the office is in the midst of a mini-makeover I guess we can add curtains to the list.  Of course we could just lower the rods but I wish they were higher anyway and I am currently not digging the more traditional pattern.  There was a rumor going around the house that I may have shrank them on purpose…..but that is untrue.  It just was a unfortunate accident.

So now I am on the hunt for a more modern fabric in the same color family.  So far nothing has popped out at me.  I was so inspired by some Michael Kors greek key sheets I spied at Homegoods but they were tan and not black and I cannot find them in black anywhere.  But other than that small color problem they were perfect.  Any great ideas?

Speaking of curtains…..

#2 I listened to the majority and ordered white fabric for the drapes in the kitchen.


Ignore the fact it has taken my 10 months to get to it.  (and the fact it is still on the bolt).  But it is getting prewashed because I am planning on liking these drapes for awhile.  I went with a linen blend because I liked the texture (and it was on sale…which is a bonus when you need 27 yards of something).

Speaking of never ending projects….

#3 We finally have glass shelves in our open cabinets….2 years later.


Now we just need to work on the glass in the doors.  I would say stay-tuned but it may be awhile.  I am enjoying getting the dishes off the counter and empty cabinet space.  And how it looks much more finished.  In case you were wondering I have absolutely no excuse to why it took this long to get them.

Speaking of……well…the kitchen??

#4 I picked a few tomatoes last night


Pizza sauce here we come! The two tomato plant are not doing well themselves because of some infestation I can’t figure out (and refuse to spray for) but luckily that does not seem to be affecting the actual tomatoes.

Told you I would find a away to tie it all together.


Zesty Salsa


One of my garden resolutions this year was to have a better preservation plan so when we have piles of perishable produce (say that 5 times fast) that it would not go to waste.

So when the tomato plant started producing, I was ready with some salsa making activities.  Kim at Newly Woodwards almost convinced to start with pizza sauce with pictures of her canning yumminess, but since I also had tons of peppers, we decided salsa was the best bet.


I went to the library and checked out some great canning books.  I find my salsa recipe in this one.


Actually it had tons a great recipes (salsa and otherwise) and I picked out Zesty Salsa to start with.  No particular reason besides it sounded good and honestly it was the one that utilized the most of the types of pepper we had in the garden.

Here what went into it-

10 cups chopped cored peeled tomatoes

5 cups chopped seeded bell peppers

5 cups chopped onions

2 1/2 cups chopped seeded chili peppers (we used jalapeno)

1 1/4 cups cidar vinegar

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Everything came from our garden except garlic, cidar vinegar, and cilantro that met an early end this year.

For the first round of salsa, the tomatoes were just beginning to ripen so I made a half batch which yielded 5 pint jars. IMG_2678

Well this picture shows 4 and a half but that was just because it was so good that we had to sample some.  Trust me there were five.

And being lazy I decided not to can them and just stick them in the freezer.  I had bought freezer safe glass jars and I figured that we could eat it by the time 6 months had passed.

Well  it was amazing, because three days later only two jars remained in the freezer.  But before you think we are total salsa pigs, let me tell you that I did give a jar to our neighbors.

Luckily we had a lot more tomatoes (and a random cantaloupe but ignore that part)….


And plenty more peppers so we made a second full batch this time.  And since Derek was helping the jalapeno has a bit more kick. 

So we now have 9 pint jars in the freezer and giant tupperware of yumminess in the fridge.  Hopefully that will last much longer this time, because the next round of tomatoes is destined for pizza sauce.  But just writing this post has me crazing some more and heading to the fridge so that might still be up in the air……



Going Back In


Last weekend I realized just how long it has been since we have done an “inside” project.  We had been so busy with outside stuff and Europe prep that the inside has been ignored as of late.

And since I always get some project inspiration with a little wine, some good music and Derek not home to talk me into being more practical and having a plan (hence how the kitchen reno started), the office is now getting a mini-makeover.  Nothing drastic but just a couple of little things that have been bugging me about the space lately.  I am still in the going to Homegoods, returning to Homegoods and buying more at Homegoods stage but I wanted to share a sneak peek at one of the projects that is actually done in the space.

We try to make the decor in our home as personal as possible without going overboard with pictures of the two of us cheesing it up for the camera.  Coming back from Italy, I have been resisting the urge to plaster photos of the trip all over the place, while still putting memorable items on display.  Not so easy.

I saw an idea of displaying travel maps over from Alissa over at 33 Shades of Green awhile ago and loved how it was personal but pretty at the same time.  So I made sure to save all the maps we used during the trip. 

After I had dumped everything off the bookshelves in the office on that Saturday night, I decided to add some frames to the top.  So I messed around with frames I had in various colors and sizes until I found an arrangement I liked.

They were on the smaller side, but I sort of liked just including special sections of the map instead of the entire thing. Also I wanted to change it up in terms of colors on the maps and how they were positioned with mats in the frame.

So I pulled out the maps we used for sightseeing and went to work measuring and cutting with this in mind.


Since I wanted the maps to “mean something” I got the location of our apartment and some major sights included the sections of Rome and Florence I cut out.  To change it up a little bit, I used a more zoomed out map for Siena… commemorate our memorable bus ride of course.   The maps are creased and written on (and probably quite sweaty) but that makes me like them even more.


IMG_2721And now every time I look in the corner now I can remember Italy and where exactly we stayed.  And the bus ride.  And of course the running joke of why I never carried the maps or navigated the entire trip.  Let’s just say my sense of direction was left back in the States.  If I was in charge of this task we would have ended up back in Germany. 





It is that time of season where summer is starting to lose it’s charm in our neck of the woods.  It is hot.  And sticky.  And dry.  And no amount of watering keeps the plants from wilting and or the grass from turning brown. 

So I set my alarm early this weekend to get out in the garden before it was sweltering and the I admit I was a little grumbly about it.  Because I was sick of watering and weeding and feeding and fighting pests on the tomatoes and black spot on the roses.  So the entire time I was staking up the raspberries (which are being ravaged by some unknown disease or insect that no amount of googling has led me to a conclusion)  I was composing an open letter to August because my feelings for it were much like February.   I had all the details in my head. 

But then I saw this. 


And after I wiped the condensation off my lens from the humidity I got to enjoy these.


And suddenly my grumpy letter to August disappeared because how could February compete with fresh raspberries?

And peppers….


And tomatoes…


And if Iwas still not convinced just remember the having to dig out the door…..IMG_0097

Yep August has nothing on February.  Bring on the heat!




I have been promising this for awhile, but the outdoor space it finally ready.  But next time I want to finally get an outdoor space together, I need to actually make progress before August when it is too hot to be outside even at night….. and when all the flowers and herbs are looking a little wilty….well because they are hot too.

Anyway it would not be an After without an Before. So he is the unofficial before (stolen from the raised beds how-to).  Basically when we moved in we plopped a table in the middle of the deck with cheap plastic chairs and hung lights very very straight on the pergola.  Oh and Derek  installed outdoors speakers as soon as the wire was discovered.  Priorities.

Here we are now:

Outdoor space 8/10

I swear I did not have Winter pose…that is where she was laying when I walked out with the camera.

The other side-

Outdoor space 8/10

My reading corner-Outdoor space 8/10

The umbrella gets moved frequently to shade the plant and the sectional.  I can’t decide if I like it better with or without….hmmmm.

Outdoor space 8/10

The long view.  Yes I am aware that it leans.  I swear this is the only angle you can tell.  A couple of people have given us ideas about how to fix it but frankly none of them sound that fun and we have not cared enough to pursue it yet.  10 points if you can spy the shell pink mini blinds in the ugly master bath in this picture.

Outdoor space 8/10

On a daily basis I use our rolling cart for gardening stuff, but it multi tasks for entertaining or BBQing-

Outdoor space 8/10

Some herbs and the grape trellis.  Hopefully the grapes will be higher than the first level and able to be seen next year.  Outdoor space 8/10

And at night (without a tripod obviously).  I like how the sectional area is less lit but still bright enough.

Outdoor space 8/10


And to prove they were not nearly so cooperative the entire time….

Outdoor space 8/10

In case you are wondering, here is where I got stuff (on a budget of course):

Tile-Top table and umbrella- Lowe’s or Home Depot years ago on clearance

Sectional: Wal-Mart (blogged here)

Rocking Chair- Jo-ann’s (blogged here)

Outdoor Rug: Home Fabrics and Rugs (blogged here)

Garden Stool: Homegoods (here)

Blue side table- hand me down transformed with the power of spray paint

Outdoor Pilliows-made by me

Rolling Cart- made my Derek (tutorial here)

Painted Pots -another DIY project (tutorial here).  The non-painted pots are from Homegoods.

And the final DIY project- the canvas panels on the pergola (here)

So what do you think?  Now I am starting to get the itch for fall and cooler weather so we can start spending time out there again.