What to Put on Top of the Cabinets?

Looking around here lately, it appears like we have gotten away from our DIY roots and I have just been sewing(barely).  Not so. 

Back when Carter was tiny I was watching a whole lot of HGTV.  He was a very slow eater and I did a whole lot of sitting.

David Bromstad did this cool wine bottle art installation on one of the shows…which gave me the idea for the top of our bar cabinet.

Hmmm…

Now in perfect world, we would just have cabinets going all the way up to the ceiling and I would not have to worry about to put on top of them.  But we don’t and I do.

This was a super simple DIY….first drink lots of wine and save your bottles.  No problem there.  Although I think some people who saw the bar during the “save the bottles” phase may have come to the conclusion that we have a drinking problem.

above the kitchen cabinets

Then, to get the labels off, fill a bathtub full of hot water, add some cheap shampoo and soak them.

At least that is what David told me to do.

Some came off super easy and others took a little bit of scrubbing. 

I initially envisioned straight rows of bottles lined up…but the wires for the lighting and the cabinet tops prevented that.

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So instead we went with using some scrap wood to achieve different heights for the bottles.

After some arranging and rearranging we got this…

above the kitchen cabinets

Or should I say this…

above the kitchen cabinets

I think it adds some visual interest to the tops of the cabinet.  For free. And since the labels are off, I think it makes it look less “college dorm room alcohol trophy” and more “classy display of bottles”.  At least that is what I tell myself. 

I also love how it looks when it is lit up at night.

above the kitchen cabinets

I am toying with idea of adding this to other cabinets on the other side of the kitchen.  It would be a whole lot of wine to drink, but I think we would be up for the challenge.  I am not sure if it would be too much or make the room look we were trying for a wine theme.  Which we aren’t.

So for right now I am just going to enjoy them on the bar cabinet.  And continue to drink more wine….just in case we need the bottles.

Cutting Up the Color Card

I have loved my Kona color card for awhile.  So pretty to see all the fabric possibilities lined up just waiting for you to buy them and make something beautiful.

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Except there was one problem.  The fabric swatches were glued down.  So when you wanted to see how two colors played with each other, you had to try to finagle the cardboard to try to get them somewhat in the same vicinity while not bending the heck out the card. 

I don’t think I need to tell you how well that worked.

So I cut it up.

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It was a little scary making that first snip.  But then it was almost liberating…is that weird?  Take that color card!

But then how to store them? A quick google search gave me lots of ideas.  A hole punch and a ring.  A jewelry case separated by color.  All good ideas but I wanted them to be easily accessible and visible.  And moveable of course.

Then my time working in special education came to the rescue…velcro strips. 

If you are not familiar with what I am talking about, we use velcro strips a lot.  For reinforcement systems to communication modalities to sensory issues, velcro is where it is at.  I have spent many many hours putting velcro on the back of pennies. So this is the most unoriginal idea ever.

So I bought strips of velcro and cut the soft side into small pieces.  And them stuck them on the back of each and every little square.  Which takes a very long time. There are 243 of those babies.

Then I stuck the rough side velcro strips onto an old canvas I had laying around from another previously abandoned project.

cutting up the kona color card

A little little color sorting and sticking later, I have this completely functional and not to mention somewhat pretty piece.cutting up the kona color card

The best part? You can take them off and move them anywhere.  Or rearrange them in any way.  Or just look at al the color possibilities.

cutting up the kona color card

So when I am trying to match solids to colors in patterned fabric, I just swipe them from the strip.

cutting up the kona color card

Or when I want to see certain colors together…just pull them off and move them around.  And return them back to the strip later of course.  Can’t lose any of the colors in the mess I call a craft room.

cutting up the kona color card

I added a couple of velcro strips around the craft room so I can stick them anywhere.  Like over the sewing machine…

cutting up the kona color card

Or even on the bottom of the canvas-

cutting up the kona color card

I am not sure why I did not think of this earlier.  Or why it makes me so happy.  Maybe I should have pinned up the color card for display a long time ago. Or done some self-reflection about why little pieces of fabric stuck to a canvas make me smile.

Anyways all I know is I love how it has functioned so far.  And I love looking at the colors while I am busy cutting.  Even if it does make me weird.

cutting up the kona color card

A Blue Bear Party- Part 2

Now that we have all those pesky details out of the way, we are ready for the fun part of Carter’s Blue Bear 1st Birthday Extravaganza.

And what is more fun than cake smashing?

1st birthday blue bear party

Hmmm this looks…interesting.

1st birthday blue bear party

Maybe I should eat it with my face.

1st birthday blue bear party

No, I am civilized, a spoon is the only way to go  But what crap is this mom?

1st birthday blue bear party

Maybe I will just feed it to everyone else.  I am a good host.  Anyone want some partially chewed and smashed cake?

1st birthday blue bear party

I’m one…but in a sugar stupor.

1st birthday blue bear party

I do like cake!

When we got to gifts, our lack of nap started to show.

1st birthday blue bear party Especially since his extended family spoiled him rotten so there was a whole lot of opening going on.   He got so many amazing things that we had to put half them away to be brought out in a couple of months.  Good thing the basement play area is almost up and ready for fun.  He did open this bad boy from his aunt. 

1st birthday blue bear party

And rode it around the house.  He did not have the whole turning thing down though so it was much better out in the yard. Minus the fact it was 104 degrees.

1st birthday blue bear party

Yep that is what a drought and extreme heat does to your grass even when you have sprinklers.  It was a little crunchy out there, but nothing his ATV could not handle.

We finished off the day with a taste of root beer for the first time.  I get mom of the year for that one, but look on his face when he felt the bubbles was priceless.

1st birthday blue bear party

Carter has had a great year and his party was the perfect way to celebrate it.  Happy first birthday Carterman!  Now I am going to try not to cry about no longer being able to classify this post in the “baby” category…

Tomayto Tomahto

It has begun…

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One days harvest.  And then two days later I came back in with this…

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And in another two days that basket will be full again.  And in another couple of days…you get the idea. I think some salsa making is about to ensue.  I am still dreaming about that salsa I made two years ago.  Yes it is weird to think about a salsa for that period of time.

So why so many tomatoes? 

I would like to say it is my excellent watering, fertilizing and weeding skills.

But that would be a lie.  In interest of full disclosure here is what the garden/weed patch looks like right now.

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Good thing tomatoes are red otherwise I would never find them in there. It is a mess.  And we have not had rain in weeks (hence the hose and fried grass).  Oh and it is has been over 100 degrees for a very long time. And it will continue to be for a very long time.

So maybe it is the heat.  Or my sporadic watering.  Or my non fertilization. Or the fact that our winter was so mild that three tomato plants came back from last year. Or the square foot gardening soil mix we added this year. Or the Bee Balm.

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This happens to be planted right next to the garden (you can see the dried remnants of the blooms in the weed garden pic above) .  And bees love it.  Especially bumble bees.  And I am thinking that when they are enjoying the pretty pink flowers, they could be moseying on over to the boring yellow tomato flowers and helping me out. And no stings yet.

That is just my idea though…it could be totally false.  I am just going to enjoy all of my tomatoes and pretend like I knew what I was doing when I planted it there.  Anyone want some salsa?

A Blue Bear Party-Part 1

Meet Blue Bear.

Blue Bear Party

Carter’s favorite stuffed animal.  He has a basket brimming with nicer stuffed animals but he has chosen the cheap one that his daddy won him at Dave and Buster’s to be his favorite.  Go figure. And we gave him a very creative name. 

He loves Blue Bear.

Blue Bear Party

This is how he shows it.  That is a one year old’s hug right there.

So when we were talking about his first birthday party, we decided that his favorite stuffed animal would be the theme.  And it did not hurt that “blue” is an easy jumping off point.

We wanted the party to be low key but fun. And not over the top since he will not remember it.  But you are only one once.

The invitation- I ordered them from Lovely Little Party on Etsy. The picture was a whale, but she customized it with the bear.   Loved them.

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Blue Bear was waiting at the door with his “1” and cake pops favors for the way out.

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blue bear party

Carter’s old grass drying rack functioned well for a cake pop holder.

For the decorations, I made some fabric bunting for the dining room and the kitchen.

fabric bunting

fabric bunting

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And the centerpieces continued with the “1” and marbles.IMG_9667

We loved polka dotted blue balloons and put them outside and around the house.

blue bear party

If you are ever wondering how helium balloons do in 100 degree heat…I will give you a hint-not well.

On the mantel, his month pictures were strung across with ribbon and fun foam.

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I did two poses…but I lost steam after month 6.  Not going to win “Mom of the Year” with that one. So we go months 1-6 and then the 12 month photos are in the frames at the top.

We had a local baker do the cake.

blue bear party

I loved it and it was delicious.  And everyone else thought it was delicious too.  At least I think they were telling the truth.

Blue Bear was made out of a rice krispie treat.  Which is currently in our freezer and I assume waiting for the one year anniversary of his first birthday?? Not sure on the protocol for that one…

blue bear party

And of course the smash cake.

blue bear party

We also had tons of food which I did not take a picture of.  But I did snap the most important part-

blue bear party

And the cake eating throne with the hat that he would not put on his head…

blue bear party

On the TV next to the fireplace, we had a movie of his first year pictures and video clips set to music playing in the background.  I would post it here but it is really long and I know no one cares that much.  I used windows movie maker and it was super easy.  We just burned three copies on a DVD (as many as would fit) so we did not need to keep restarting it.  Grandparents also got there own copy of course to take home.  They may have even loved it more than the cake pop favors.

In the week leading up the the party we scrambled to get the basement area up and running and ready for people to be down there.

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But almost everyone stayed upstairs. Except those who knew we were working on it and wanted to make me feel better.  Oh well…now I will be able to share it here and actually have space for all the new and large toys.

And all the party fun and cake smashing shenanigans will be coming up in Part 2.  Because Part 1 is already way too long.  Said the girl who wanted an low-key party.

Happy First Birthday!

Wow what a year!editsWe officially no longer have a baby.  Even though he is always going to be my baby.  Which makes today a bittersweet celebration.

It has been a very good year.  Full of lots of learning, not much sleeping at times and more love than I ever could imagine.  The baby we brought home from the hospital is a totally different little guy than the one year old who has us wrapped around his finger.  And while I thought my heart would burst with love for the newborn, it is continued to grow month by month. edits1We have had our bad days (I am looking at you molars and our brilliant idea to see if he still needed reflux meds…he does), but this summer has been almost perfect and in a lot of ways going back to work in a couple of weeks is going to be more difficult than when I started back after my maternity leave.  Because now he says “mama” and give hugs and snuggles.  And I have gotten used to categorizing everything I do into '”nap” and “with Carter” activities.   And baby babbles.  And catching some more zzzz’s every morning in our bed…which would be something that should last forever, but for the next couple of weeks it is perfect.  And did I mention snuggles?

So happy first birthday to the best little boy a mom and dad could ask for…thanks for the best year yet.

I can’t wait for the next one.

Elephants on Parade

I have another quilt that I could not wait to share, but it had to arrive at a little one’s house before I could show some pictures.  His momma is one of my blog friends and I did not want give her a sneak peek and ruin the surprise.elephants on parade quilt

The quilt got sent to Henry Woodward (of The NewlyWoodwards fame) and I hope he enjoys it as much I did making it.

elephants on parade quilt

His mom also made him some beautiful quilts(check out this houndstooth) so I almost sent something else.  But one thing that Carter has taught me is you can never have too many quilts to play on when they are little.  Because three of them are usually in the wash with spit up on them. Or should be in the wash because you have dabbed spit up off of them 9 times.

elephants on parade quilt

I picked up the elephant fabric and blue shot cotton at a local fabric store during a quilting retreat back in April.  And I loved it so much that I almost made Carter another quilt.

elephants on parade quilt

But while he is good for quilt modeling, this one belongs to Henry.  I did buy enough elephants to make another one just in case I find some spare time.  Ha.

The back is simple with some polka dots and more snuggly shot cotton.

elephants on parade quilt

elephants on parade quilt

Welcome to the world Henry!

Stumped (Again)

When we last left the stump table in the nursery, it was sanded and stained.  And loved by me- but that is beside the point.  I was afraid to add poly to it because it was still fresh wood and it needed to cure some more.

Or so said my intensive google research.

And I am happy to say that was the correct decision.  Books protected the top from spit-up, drool and other baby related liquids.  I had noticed the cracks becoming larger as time went on, and one day during one of our early marathon feeding sessions, I actually heard a loud pop coming from the stump and saw one of the cracks had doubled in size.

stump table

So after it had cured for six months and we were actually getting sleep and thinking about DIY again, I restained the widened crack with a small paintbrush.

stump table

And then added a couple cots of polyurethane in semi gloss.

stump table

Much shinier.  And better protected.

stump table

So the stump is officially done.  I like the sheen of the finished product but if you are making your own stump and want it to look more natural, you could tone down the gloss.  Or rub in a paste wax.  I entertained that idea, but considering that a certain someone likes to chew on it now on a regular basis, I did not think that was the most prudent decision.  Not Derek in case you were worried.

This table has worked out perfectly in the nursery and has stood up beautifully to first the spitting and then the chewing and now the pulling.  Derek (who thought it was a stupid idea in the beginning) is now a big fan.  And being able to say “I was right” is a beautiful thing.  Especially when you have a great and cheap table to show for it.

Tutu Round 2

My little sister got married a couple of weeks ago and we had a great time.

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Yes that is a newborn pacifier in his hand.  He hated them for many months and has now rediscovered their awesomeness. 

Carter was one of the ring bearers and even though we are not walking independently yet, he used his wagon walker to get down the aisle.

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Well almost.  We walked half way and realized that there were hundreds of people looking at us and then sat down.  Oh well.

My biased opinion just has to say that he was the cutest, but the flower girls gave him a run for his money in their tutus.

how to make a tutu

My sister used my tutorial to make the tutu’s (with slightly bigger pieces of tulle to compensate for going on a child and not a baby) and then I sewed on the white ribbon.

Which, while definitely not the longest, the most difficult part in my opinion.  (But if you don’t sew, you can still make the tutu and just not add the ribbon.) And if you saw how unstraight my sewing was trying to jam all that tulle under there you would think I have never sewn a stitch.  So not going to sew these on Etsy anytime soon.  Luckily you can not see the sewing, just all of their cuteness. how to make a tutu

I loved her idea of putting the flower girls in tutus and they were definitely the hit.  And I think they liked twirling in them too.  It is not everyday you get to wear a tutu.   Maybe a should make one for myself…

Plain Spoken

I have found that I enjoy having quilts stay at my house instead of always being given as gifts.  And this one not only gets to stay at our house, but at the foot of our bed so I can look at it every day.

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It is the Plain Spoken Pattern from the The Modern Quilt Workshop.  It was my very first quilting book I bought and I am so glad they put modern in the title so that a novice like me would add it to her amazon shopping cart years ago.

In the book they say the key to the pattern is the number of solids you include-the more the better.  I believe this one has 20 something different Kona solids in it. 

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It is twin sized and when it is folded it fits long ways across our king size bed.  I went with an analogous color scheme to fit our master bedroom and I am thrilled how it turned out. 

plain spokenThe next time I put one together though (and there will be a next time) I think I will go with a more complementary scheme.  Which is one of the things I love about this quilt design…you could take it in so many ways.

plain spoken

I think I am going to call the The Itch.  It is super soft but I decided it would be our seven year anniversary quilt.  I thought about being cute and putting seven shapes on the back to symbolize the seven years of wedded bliss, but then changed my mind as I could not decide the placement and frankly I was running out of fabric.  And time.  So solid back it was.

On top of having this to keep us warm all summer long, a bonus to this quilt was Weeks Ringle, one of the authors of the book, came to speak to the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild a couple of weeks ago.  She was a great speaker and brought many amazing pieces that she let us pass around.  And I got to show off my Plain Spoken to her along with others who had completed one of her patterns.  It was super exciting as showing off your quilt to the author of the pattern does not happen everyday.

And for those out there who were wondering what impetus I had to finish this quilt, I would like to say that I was self-motivated as there was no looming baby shower.  But no, you are correct, I was binding like a mad woman the night before Weeks got here.  Full disclosure.

plain spoken

A twin is by far the largest quilt I have made thus far and while I need to get better at my basting and quilting technique as well as allow more time for binding, it did not take as long as I thought it would and I happy that I was able to tackle a larger project.

Which is good because someone is going to need a quilt for his big boy room you know…

Summer!

Summer has officially arrived at our house.  Having summer vacation every year is a definite perk of my job and Carter and I have big plans together. 

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More down time equals more time for projects and blogging.  So much has been going on for me to share, I just need to sit down and get it written. 

Normally I would apologize for my absence (which at this point is not really surprising to anyone), but it was a conscious choice for me to spend more time with my family and doing projects for the love of them and not thinking about the “blog” aspect of it all. 

And I have to say it was lovely in a lot of ways.

In early March, I thought I had strep throat.  Nope.  Then I thought I just had the flu.  Three days of high fever and not leaving my bed later, I promised Derek that I would go to the doctor again the next day if I was not better.  That night I felt short of breath and it felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest.  Like I just ran 5 miles beating.  Since that was obviously not the case, I tried the taking taking deep breathes and thinking calming thoughts.  Nope.

To make a long story very short, I ended up in the ER and then admitted at the hospital for a couple of days with pneumonia and tachycardia atrial fibrillation (basically my heart was beating incredibly fast and in an irregular rhythm).  There were a couple of scary moments (like the heart monitors going crazy in the ER and 6 people rushing in….one with the paddles) but the good news is they think I am totally fine and the pneumonia caused the whole thing.  The question is why the pneumonia hit me so hard since I am not 70 and have never had it before, but we will probably never know. 

But spending a couple of days on the cardiac floor and hearing everyone be surprised my age and my condition (You are the patient with the A-fib???-hearing it more than 10 times makes you feel slightly like a freak of nature) put some things in perspective. 

Like how quickly things can change.  Like how the ability to have another baby is not a given.  Like how precious time with my family is.  And how short it could be.

So over spring break I promised myself there would be no to-do lists.  I would be present in every single moment and not running through everything else I had to get done.  It was a lot harder than I expected but by the end of the week it was getting easier. Not much was getting done, but we had a great time.  Since then the to-do lists are back but I try to make sure there is no guilt attached if not everything is checked off.

So if a blog post did not get done or molding did not get caulked oh well if meant spending quality time with my family. Or spending time trolling Pinterest.

And it was nice.  But I have missed the blog and the community.  And while I can’t promise three posts a week, I hope to be around here more often.  Or so says my to-list in front of me at the moment.IMG_8694

Because I have projects and quilts to share.  And a certain someone is almost 1 with a party coming up.  And it is summer.  Hope to see you soon.

Basement Chronicles #56784

First the walls came down

Well actually it would be more accurate to say first it flooded and then everything got ripped out.  Which prompted the idea for a much larger renovation, therefore causing the walls to come down.  Just to be precise.

And then they went back up.  And then we had fun with electrical, plan changing, tiling, painting, fireplace installing, molding and my personal favorite, caulking.  Which brings us to a very important day in the life of our basement-functional with some furniture.

basement progress

Don’t let the one randomly placed pillow fool you, we still have a long way to go.  Like scraping the paint off the windows. 

But a couple of movie nights have already been enjoyed down here.  And it was awesome.

basement progress

And while some members of the household will beg to differ, my favorite thing in the space is not the TV, but the entertainment console.

basement progress

It is metal and therefore very heavy.  At least that is what I am ascertaining by the grunting that occurred getting it down the stairs.  And it already looks beat up and old, so there will be no worries when Carter continues to beat it and make it look older.

basement progress

It is technically a buffet, but it works perfectly under the TV and a quick hole drilled in the back made it an instant entertainment center.  We were a little worried about the height when we saw it it in the store, but I am so happy we took the leap.

Love it.

The sectional was also a great find as it was the exact dimensions we needed/wanted and liked how it does not feel oversized. Oh and it is comfy.

basement progress

Since the walls of the workout room came tumbling down to  make way for bigger and better things, we built a workout closet.

basement progress

basement progress

Still missing the barn doors to cover it all up (hey we need a toilet in the bathroom first), but I love how it works in the basement.  Because it does not take up too much space and can be easily hidden.  And you can still work out while watching TV.

basement progress

Far away TV, but TV nonetheless.  Jillian does not need to be up close and personal.

I could list all the things we still need to construct, do and decorate in the space (hello toilet), but for now we are just enjoying the “done-ness” of having a place to sit. 

And watching movies and drinking wine…with the hum of a baby monitor in the background.

Lawn Chair Quilt

My baby sister is getting married this summer so I wanted to whip up a quilt to help them celebrate for a shower gift.

I was eyeing a pattern that was beautiful but would require a whole lot of time as well as precision in the piecing.

Yeah I chose something else.

Otherwise it would be more likely to become quilt to be given to her at a future baby shower.

I used the Lawn Chair pattern from Moda Bake Shop and half of a A Stitch in Color jelly roll.

Lawn chair quilt

I love the fun colors and the way it looks like a woven lawn chair. And the fabric.

Swoon.

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Oh and how easy it came together.  In a non-precise sort of way.

On the back I added my paper pieced LOVE to make it more wedding-ish.

Lawn chair quilt

Lawn chair quilt

 

Lawn chair quilt

Now it has a home on their couch.  And all that snuggling underneath since this spring been so…well it looks nice at least.

Spring Garden Clean Up

Our garden sucked last year.

My normal “red x’s on the calendar counting down until the last frost” self gave way to well…being busy and pregnant. 

That led to weeds.  A while lot of weeds and pretty much no vegetables.  Because that would require things like watering.  And actually going out to pick them when they are ripe.

I would go on kicks where I would try to get things back on track, but it was just too overwhelming.  And let’s be honest, no one wants to see a 8 month pregnant woman weeding in the middle of summer.

And that whole bending over thing proved to be problematic.

So this year is a do over, and with the gorgeous weather we decided like there was no time like the present.

Out came 11 bags of weeds, dead plants and miscellaneous crap that had been sitting there all winter.square foot gardening

Our raspberries got some fungal disease last year that in my expert plant google knowledge, was not treatable so they had to be dug up as well.  Which was sad, but they took up a lot of room so I am trying to look on the bright side of having a lot more space.

This year we are trying the popular square foot gardening method.  It sounds easy and I am especially loving the “no weeding” part.  Obviously.

In the book, he is adamant that you make grids.  I thought this was a little extreme and almost did not do it.  Or should I say almost did not ask Derek to do it.

square foot gardening

But after he made the grids, I can see why it is important.  I already see how much more stuff I can squeeze in.  We have had great results in the past (other than last year) and I am hoping to add to that.

Now we have 72 squares all ready to grow some goodies.

square foot gardening

Seeds  have arrived and will be planted this week.  Well at least the lettuce, radishes, potatoes and asparagus.  

The others will have to wait until we get a little closer to that last frost date. Since I am back to caring about that again.

So let’s hear all the awesomeness of square foot gardening.  Any other newbies like me? I am in my spring optimistic no weeds state of mind right now.

Office Mini-Makeover

The office was one the first rooms we put lipstick on when we moved in.  And since that has now been a couple of years ago and I was not happy with all my original “get in and get something on the walls and use furniture we have from the old house decisions”, it was time for some changes. 

So let’s start with the Before Before.

old office

We painted (obviously), beefed up the crown molding and added an overhead light fixture.

The In-Between-

old officeold officeold office

Not bad, but as we lived with it, not exactly what I wanted either.  So with some minor changes, here is the new After.

New art, new chair, new drapes, new light and new accessories.  And unfortunately a new printer. While it does not go with the design aesthetic it is very functional and I decided to keep it real and not move it for the picture. That and it would have involved moving a lot of cords.  Nap time is not that long around here.

office makeover

I liked the vacation photos that we had printed in black and white before, but they looked puny where they were and we needed some variety.  So they moved to the wall behind the TV.

office makeover

office makeover

All of the frames were reused and we just updated some of the pictures. 

office makeover

The bookshelves were streamlined by taking off all of the excess stuff and moving all the books forward.

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I love looking at stacks of books…it is the one thing that I dislike about my kindle…no more books to stack and remind you to re-read. Oh well.

The top of the bookshelves holds our Italy maps and wine corks…

office makeover

As well as a cute Halloween dragon and Made by Girl print…office makeover

I have already shared the drapes, but let’s look at them again shall we?

office makeover

And while we are doing that, you can see the new lamp and lack of ceiling fan.

office makeover

Most of all the accessories came from everyone’s favorite…Homegoods.  Including the lovely nail head trim chair and wood lacquer box.

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I wish I could add a rug in here, but between the funky diagonal spacing and the placement of the vents, everything looks ridiculous.  I have tried.

I have toyed with changing the paint color as it is the only space in our house with a warm tone and a peacock blue might be amazing.  But I also worry it would be too dark with all the black furniture.  Maybe when the basement is complete and I am itching to paint again, I will think about it.

office makeover

So what do you think of the cheap mini-makeover?

I Hate Sewing Drapes

Every time we talk about revamping a room I hunt for that perfect fabric for drapes.  I enjoy finding the perfect complement to the decor and knowing that whipping up some lined panels is not difficult.  Ahhhh…

Except that I hate making curtains.  I always seem to forget this small detail in the fun part of the search but as the months pass by and the massive amounts of yardage sit collecting dust in my craft room as I remember all the crappy ironing, pinning, measuring, wrestling with large amounts of fabric and plain boringness of sewing drapes.

Over I a year ago I washed our office drapes and they shrank.  Which made them look like we were going to have a flood anytime.  Not to mention sun shone through the loops at the top of them which made them look…well cheap.  And too small for the window.

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This bothered me every morning as I walked down the stairs.  And it bothered me enough to find and buy fabric on my IKEA trip.  Over one year ago.

IKEA!

I could pretend that some bolt of inspiration made me get over my curtain making hating ways.  Or that I really was going to be the queen of finishing projects this year. 

Or maybe it was because I want to buy fabric for the basement drapes and I knew I could not justify that with both office and kitchen drape fabric still inhabiting my craft room.   I let you be the judge of which one sounds more like me.

Anyway no matter what the reason…they are D-O-N-E.

how to fake pinch pleat curtains

 

And I love them.

how to fake pinch pleat curtains

As you can see, they needed to be washable as our two furry friends are their constant companion.  This time I was smart and pre-washed both the drapery fabric and the lining so our shrinking problem will not repeat. 

We also moved the curtain rods to hang them higher and wider so that the windows would look larger.

But I did not just want to show you the new curtains, I also wanted to share my trick for faking pinch pleats.

how to fake pinch pleat curtains

I wanted some pleats but I also wanted to use my existing hardware.  So I sprayed the back of the top tab with starch to stiffen it up…

how to fake pinch pleat curtains

And then I pleated it and stuck the clip of the ring halfway down the top tab.how to fake pinch pleat curtains

The starch keeps it stiff and non-floppy at the top and you can’t see where the clips are attached.  And you get pleats.  Super easy and can be redone in a snap for washing.

how to fake pinch pleat curtains

With the completion of the drapes the office mini-makeover is now complete which I can’t wait to share.  Since it has only been a year since it was started. 

Mark your calendars for this time next year when I am ready to unveil the basement drapes.  Because did you really think I was really going to be finisher this year?

L-O-V-E

Happy Valentine’s Day!  In honor of the holiday I thought I would try my hand at a little paper piecing.IMG_7616

OK I admit this was not just for Valentine’s day, but a part of another unfinished in progress project. I was surprised that paper piecing was not a difficult and tedious as I was expecting it to be.  And maybe even a little enjoyable.  So if you are scared of it like I was, do some googling for tutorials and give it a whirl. Now I can spell anything I want on a quilt or sewing project.

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How about D-O-N-E?  Or F-I-N-I-S-H?

Nope, I think I like L-O-V-E better.

Burp Cloth Tutorial (Field-Tested)

When I found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I did was start buying fabric for burp clothes.  Easy and cute and I finally had an excuse to buy some kids fabric besides giving it away to other people. There are precisely 23894 tutorials on the blogosphere for how to make them and I did the whole sewing fabric on a diaper method (don’t worry, I go into greater detail in the actual tutorial).

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They did look prettier before they were washed a million times.

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I made over 20 like this and thought I was golden.  Because we were not going to have an urper anyway so they would just sit pretty in their box.

And then Carter made his arrival.  And he had reflux. IMG_7440

Which meant that burp clothes became a constant fashion accessory.  And that you did not get nice clothes on for work until you were literally walking out the door in case he erupted. 

You should be thanking me for not sharing a picture of him actually spitting up.  Because we have them.

Anyway with all the urping going on, the diaper burp clothes I made were showing their weaknesses.  Namely that they are too wide for shoulders and were constantly falling off. Leaving your shoulder in a vulnerable position.  Not to mention your back.

My friend Lauren made us some thinner ones which worked so much better (and matched his nursery too- bonus!).

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So taking her thin design and adding some flannel for some extra “stickiness” I have now perfected the burp cloth.  At least think so.  Now if I just find the time make some more of them…

Ready for the How-To?

Materials:

Printed Cotton Fabric (approximately 9x18- a fat quarter works well)

Flannel Fabric (double the size of the printed fabric)

Scissors or Rotary Cutter

Sewing Machine

Iron

How To:

1. Cut your fabric larger than the size you are thinking of making your burp cloth and pre-wash it to get the shrinking thing out of the way.

2. Cut your now shrunk printed fabric in a 9 in x 18 in rectangle.  This size can be varied, I cut the three burp clothes I made at slightly different widths depending on how much fabric I had.  This is not an exact science.burp cloth tutorial

3. Cut two flannel squares the exact same size you cut the printed fabric.

4. Line up your three squares right on top of each other with right sides together. (In the picture the three pieces are fanned out slightly so that you can see the order…when you sew make sure they are right on top of each other).burp cloth tutorial

5. Sew around the 4 edges, and stop before you reach where you started, leaving a three inch opening to flip it out.  I used a quarter inch seam.

burp cloth tutorial

6. Cut your corners of the sewn fabrics.  Be careful not to cut the seam. Press open the seams.

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7. Stick your hand in the opening and pull it right side out.  The second piece of flannel stays in the middle for extra urping absorbency.  Make sure to spend some time poking out the corners.burp cloth tutorial

8. Press well so it lays flat.  Make sure to press the flaps where the opening is in so that it matches the rest of the seams.burp cloth tutorial

9.  Edge stitch around the all 4 edges to finish it off and to complete the area with the opening.

burp cloth tutorial

10.  And you are done!  Super fast and easy.

burp cloth tutorial

One side is cute, the other side is sticky and the extra piece of flannel will help absorb the urping.  Not to mention it is skinny enough not to be sliding off your shoulder.

burp cloth tutorial

Tie it up with a bow and it also makes the perfect shower gift.

burp cloth tutorial

Happy Urping!

Paneling?

Wood paneling and and electric fireplace.

In our basement.

Think we have lost our mind?  Because those three thing conjure up images a really bad, old, dark, cave like space.  The type we would be ripping out and renovating.

When we checked out at the home improvement store I was really hoping the cashier was not judging us for what we had in our cart….because I know I would have been.

But I love how it turned out…

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The basement was feeling a little cold with all the tile and well, because it is a basement and it is cold. And the wood really brings a warmth to the space.  The heat radiating from the fireplace does not hurt either.  Oh and did I mention it was cheap?  The wood cost us less than $125. 

So how did we do it?

Well we started with a dry walled space that was designed to hide two oddly placed poles.  The entire reason for the fireplace in the first place.IMG_6374

It was built to the dimensions of the fireplace we had already ordered but we just needed something to surround it.  Tile?  Expensive, time consuming (with all the corners) and the fireplace structure was not completely square to cover the poles which would be made obvious if we spaced square tiles on top of it.  Hardwood flooring?  Viable option but the exotic stuff we really liked was still a little pricy and all the edges would have to be mitered.  So we headed to the lumber section when we stumbled on this.

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Cedar paneling. 

Really.

Using liquid nails, a saw, a nail gun and a level it became this rather quickly.  Holes were filled with stainable wood filler and sanded.

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We tried a lot of different stains on samples and settled on English Walnut by Minwax.  We then learned that stainable wood filler needed to be completely sanded off otherwise you could see every spot.  We cursed and re-sanded. A lot. At least with the cedar it smelled nice. This is what you get when you normally paint instead of stain and don’t know what you are doing.

A coat of stain and two coats of satin poly later, we were ready to install the fireplace. 

cedar paneling on fireplace

It slid right in.

cedar paneling on fireplace

We are happy with the choice to go with an electric fireplace.  Gas would have been better and with more options, but would have been more expensive. Especially considering needing to hire someone to run a gas line and vent it properly.  Ouch.  Not to mention I am not sure we would have been able to face it with wood considering fire implications.

We watched a video of the electric model we chose on YouTube before we ordered it and were happy on how authentic it looked.  (Yes people really make YouTube videos of fireplaces. Oddly helpful.) I have to admit I was nervous before we fired it up that it would look cheesy, but we are completely satisfied with it.

The next question we will probably get is why it is facing the stairs.  Here is what you see as you walk down them and enter the basement…

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We went back and forth on this as well.  We chose the side we did because if it was a solid wall it would have looked funny.  If I had enough space to put a console table there with a large picture, it would have been different, but there was not enough room to do that.  So my choices were solid wall of something (tile, wood) or fireplace.

The opposite side is next to the poker table (aka Christmas wrapping central).

cedar paneling on fireplace

So people’s backs would be facing it and it would be less of a focal point.  We thought about putting another fireplace on the back side (so it would look “double sided”) but that would have increased the cost by having to buy two fireplaces and the wall would have to be thicker and take up more floor space.  Not a good option.

Now that it is in and we are starting to get furniture down there, I am confident we made the correct decision.

Floorboards need to be cut and painted and some furniture is being delivered in the next couple of weeks which is exciting to see more pieces come together. 

Which is good because all the great toys Carter received for Christmas need a place to live besides the family room. 

Quick Change Trousers

If you have ever shopped for baby clothes, you know that girls win it hands down in the cute category.  You have tutus and dresses and tights and lace and…then I have to remove myself to the boys section before he ends up in a skirt.  But whipping up a couple of pairs of Anna Maria Horner’s Quick Change Trousers from her Handmade Beginnings book helped.IMG_6431

Because every boy needs dinosaur pants.

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These were my first pair and I just used some cheap fabric from Joann’s in case I messed them up.  Well other than the scrap on the butt.  If you have an eagle eye you can see that Carter’s butt matches his quilt.  I so meant to do that.

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They are also reversible so if he is having a more stripe kind of day, no problem.

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They are also helpful for discovering your feet.

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And set off a plain white onesie quite nicely.  Because let’s me honest, if you are wearing dinosaur pants you need something pretty neutral on the top half.

Carter loved his pants so much I made some more.  Every baby also needs Christmas pants.

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Well I actually made three.  Not that Carter needed three pairs to properly celebrate the holiday, but his two baby pals needed some as well. 

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Carter decided the sock monkeys set off his Christmas drool bib and candy cane socks nicely for lounging around the house on Christmas Eve.  His dad thinks I am channeling MC Hammer, but nothing says “festive” like monkeys in santa hats.

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And they are super comfortable for bib eating…IMG_6603

As well as present opening wrapping paper eating.

And I have already bought some fabric to make some more…this time I am thinking bears with a shot cotton lining.  Only this time I will make the legs a little shorter and the waist a little bigger.  Yep Carter hopes those proportions reverse themselves as he gets bigger.  But for right now we are all loving on the pudge.  In animal pants especially.