Thursday, March 27, 2014

Don't Jacuzzi Me of Waste

When we bought our house (3 years ago) it came with this lovely jacuzzi hot tub. Please try to reign in your jealousy. 
Our realtor tried to use it as a selling point but all we were thinking was how do we get rid of that thing? Seriously, there might as well have been a junk car in the side yard.

It is the type of monstrosity that you would ask the previous owner to remove so that it wouldn't be your problem, but in our case the previous owner was the bank and so everything was our problem.

Some of you may remember me offering it up for FREE! We had some interest but apparently no one had a hitch big enough nor enough friends to come help haul away an eight-man-hot-tub.

If you are wondering who would want to be in a hot tub with 7 other people, my only answer is swingers, which answers some other questions I have about our house, re: bar.

So, despite our desire for it to have a swinging life elsewhere, we ultimately had to make the hard decision to send it to the dump. But how to get it there?

Enter my dear old Dad. He really loves some demo.

He started pulling it apart, by hand, on Thanksgiving weekend. It was soon obvious that he would need his sawzall, which happened to be in New York at the time and Dana's was already wrapped for Christmas. I wasn't about to blow that surprise, so instead, we (my neighbors included) looked at an even more busted hot tub sitting on our patio for another 4 months.

Until my Dad came to visit again! Hooray!

He thought it would take all morning but he was mostly done by 10 o'clock. Which allowed me to snap this almost done aerial shot before heading out the door.

After a morning of running errands, I returned to this fabulous pile of rubble waiting for us to haul to the dump.

I have never been happier to throw something away, and in a house of reclaimists that is really saying something.
There was so much mildew and rotting wood to this thing it became clear that it really wasn't salvageable anyway, which lifted some serious eco-guilt off of my shoulders.

So, on a beautiful, sunny Saturday my father and I loaded up an SUV and headed to the dump...5 TIMES!!!
Not that I'm complaining that it took 4 hours, I actually quite enjoy the country drive to the dump and I got to spend some time with my Dad, I just could have done without the mildew smell.

Ta Da! Look at that junk-free deck!
If you're thinking, "man, that deck needs work." Yep, we know, it does, and someday we'll get rid of the lattice work (yuck) and build a new deck. But for now, I'm just psyched that we don't have a busted hot tub on our property anymore. 

Oh, wait, never mind, we actually have another non-working jacuzzi tub in our master bath too. I'm telling you, this house had to be built by swingers.

Friday, March 14, 2014

the doors

It's been a while since I gave you a garage renovation update. Honestly, so much is happening in there that I can't keep track and am a little behind in my posts. 

One of my favorite changes to see in the remodel is a new back door, finally. Here is the old one and, like a lot of things, from a distance it doesn't look too bad. 

Alas,looks can be deceiving. This guy was in pretty bad shape and I've been rallying for his exit since we moved in. 

See, he wasn't really offering the security I was looking for in a door, it only kinda locked. Let's just say that I spent the last three years with some sort of large furniture, ahem couch, in front of it.

(Oh, in case you think it changed color on you, the exterior was black and the interior was painted white.) 

The day my father-in-law helped Dana pulled this baby out was a joyous day. Probably for Dana too, I'm sure he was sick of listening to me complain about it.

The moment I saw our new door in place I was pretty giddy, it's the little things, right.

We ordered this guy from Lowe's. He wasn't our first choice but he fit the budget better. They were actually so similar that over time I will be able trick my brain into thinking this was our first choice.

Another budget friendly choice was to opt for a door that was primed white but not painted. This was hardly a hardship, I like being able to choose from a large spectrum of paint colors, and, I kinda like to paint.

No, we haven't decided on a color, but it still cold here so I'm not itching to paint it just yet.

LOOK! Doorknobs that lock AND deadbolt!!!

The change from gold to oil rubbed bronze knobs did me good too. Our house is slowly coming out of the eighties. 
Only one more gold set to go! 

I'm betting this doorway had gold knobs originally too, but alas, it didn't have a door when we bought the house.

This is the doorway from our living room into the garage. The curtain is for dust and the baby gate for baby and dog, still no steps. Not a thing of beauty but it's doing the trick.

But that's not the point...

I guess when there is a door on this entryway a support beam hanging too low might not matter, especially when it leads to a garage. But, it matters to us, and so another project gets added to the list.

I pulled all of the molding off and pushed the old door frame out this past weekend while Dana and my dad drywalled. 

 I've since painted that last strip of pea green right up against the fireplace and reinstalled the baby gate, of course. Tricky dog was already looking for trouble.

All in preparation for Dana to lower the door frame a little to accommodate our future new and improved ceiling.

Did I say drywall??? Yeppers. 
The garage is 99% covered in drywall!!!
I am sad to report that I did not excel at this part of the remodel, I'll just stick to mason work. 

There is a lot of spackling in Dana's future but, man, having walls feels like huge progress.

Speaking of progress, I have been cranking in the studio. I wish I was a better blogger and reported it all, but when I have to choose between writing and sewing, well, I think that choice is obvious.

I'll fill you in soon on some of my favorite mama projects from this winter. With spring around the corner I am already being pulled away from the selfish sewing and have started work on my first quilt, small as it may be. 

Oh, but these other projects, mostly for wee little ones, bring me so much joy. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

applique + alabama chanin style + giveaway

I love Alabama Chanin! How could I not? It's beautiful. Every garment has been hand stitched by folks living in Alabama, folks that could be your neighbors. She encourages use of upcycled jersey. Did I mention how beautiful it is?

I have flipped through the Alabama Stitch Book so many times it's just crazy that I don't actually own this book. My local library does, however, and it was time I actually made something from it.

Aside from scarves, I've been focusing my making on spring/summer attire. I want to be ready when the warmth comes back. Headbands are part of my Summer style so I started there.

I grabbed some old tees and followed the pattern for the Lace-Stripe Headband. I choose a different stencil from the book since I wanted to do the reverse appliqué instead of paint and bead (which is what the project calls for.)

Sharpie marker was listed as an acceptable tool to stencil with and I jumped on that. It is also encouraged to show your knot-off thread. I didn't like the look of it on every "leaf" so I knotted off top side and bottom.

It was so much easier than I thought it would be so I quickly started on a second.

I bought this shirt five years ago to wear on my honeymoon. It got stained somewhere along the way and has been tucked in the back of my closet since pre-pregnancy. I couldn't bare to toss it, so...
...headband #2.

Since I used reverse appliqué on the first, I thought I would use regular appliqué on the second. This plan would also involve using some beading techniques from the book. I decided to machine stitch my layers together this time to have a more subtle edge.

I opted to not use any particular stencil from the book for round 2 and instead free-hand cut some leaf-like shapes from another old tee.

I'm not really into beading, but oddly enough, I had 3 colors of  beads to choose from stashed away in a drawer (they're at least 10 years old.)
These silver/translucent ones looked great.

Since I'm not a blingy type of girl I only beaded 4 of the leaves and left the rest with the plain & pretty hand stitching.

Here they both are; appliqué and reverse appliqué. They both came out so perfectly rustic, you will be sure to see more of this style from me in the future. Psst, I've already adorned another abandoned tee.

I'll admit that I am more in love with the yellow one, despite this strange pic. Maybe it's the shirt's history, maybe it just matches my earrings better. But you know when you love one thing more, you won't wear the other. So, it is time for:

Just leave me a comment below if you want to win this rust colored headband! Hmmmm, let's say you have until Monday, March 3rd at 8am.

 If more than one of you dear friends and family (let's face it you are the only ones reading this) are interested then I'll let the little guy pull a name out of a hat. Because we are super hi-tech around here.
Good Luck!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

a tale of two scarves

 The other day we went to story time, Desmond discovered Rice Krispy Treats and I discovered the Bandana Scarf.

A little girl was wearing one and I moseyed over to her mother to ask about it's origin...Sweden, of course. No worries, I was already going to make one anyway, because...


Desmond hates wearing his scarf no matter how cold. I think it covers too much of his face and inhibits his ability to eat snow. With another winter storm on the way I came home and started sewing (during nap time obviously.) 

I had recently picked up this flannel shirt at The Bins thinking the pattern would be great for a future something for the little guy.

I grabbed a bandana from my drawer and copied an approximate size of the fabric folded in half, just a big triangle. The back of the shirt wasn't big enough so I cut, and added, a sleeve to it.

Then I rooted around in my flannel pile until I came up with a good backing. This bicycle print I used for Desmond's 2nd birthday party was the clear winner.

Seen in these two bottom banners:

Last I grabbed some jersey scraps to make the raw edge bias tape and zig-zagged it on. It was done in no time at all.

I'm pretty sure he likes it too. He actually wanted me to tie it on him and then wore it around the house for most of the morning.

These shots aren't great, toddler on the move, but you get the picture. Looks like we'll get to check out in the elements soon,  but since keeping it on him is the hardest part I think we'll be in good shape.

Now on to scarf number two.

Someone, me, got some awesome yarn for Christmas in a color I had been searching for. It's Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Dijon.

I really don't crochet much beyond a chain stitch but I just had to give this double crochet infinity scarf by Delia Creates a shot.

This was actually my second attempt at this scarf, I made one for  a friend first and, honestly, her's is better. I took mine apart several times and started over. But, hey, I love it anyway.

 You would have to get way up close and personal with me to see it's flaws and at that range you might be distracted by the toddler stains on my shirt anyway.

So, the Mama Making continues, even if I did squeeze in a little something for my tasmanian toddler. I have actually been sewing up a storm for myself since I last posted, I just need to get around to blogging about it all.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

the MAMA projects

I have to confess. I hardly ever get the chance to make things for myself. "Mama projects" usually get placed on the list after...

 1)Paid gigs 
2)Sewing for the little guy 
3)Fixing our house
4)Mending and general maintenance

...which means they never get done.

I have decided to focus the rest of this snowy winter on sewing for myself, with a crochet project and some home sewing thrown in there too. I am finally going to tackle lists, as well as piles, of TO-DO.

This is so exciting!!! I'm starting with some quick accessories to get the ball rolling and feel accomplished.

Project #1: Lightweight Infinity Scarf

This vintage fabric (friend hand-me-down) came to me in bits and pieces, looking like it used to be a blouse - a really awesome blouse. I knew right away it needed to be worn again.

Hello Fabulous! 
Easy-peasy, a bit of piecing together but the pattern helps hide the seams. I meant for it to be a spring scarf but I love it so much I've been jumping the season and wearing it now.

Project #2: Fabric Scrap Belt

I was gifted with this Anna Marie Horner book when I was pregnant and, although I'm not now, I still love her Early Empire Cinch and knew it could work sans giant belly.

Out came the bag of scraps. That's right, I save all of my tiny scraps, mostly for birdie rattle making, in the bag my Boppy came in. It's quite the perfect size.

Selections made, cut, and laid out. All 32 pieces.

I really love the number of vintage fabrics I was able to use as well as some scraps from old garments. Note the same fabric I used for the infinity scarf in the mix.

Is it any surprise that I love this too?

In between all of the involved projects are some smaller, so-fast-I-can't-believe-it-took-me-so-long-to-get-to-them, projects.

Like shortening and repairing this belt.

And whipping up this braided t-shirt headband that I saw on Pinterest.

I also managed to mend some socks, change the closures on a sweater, and change the earring posts on a 6-year-old pair of dangles to hypo-allergenic so I can actually wear them now.

The ball is rolling indeed. I can't wait to jump into the next project. And, honestly, with all of this fabric and a stash of patterns and books I am hoping to get it all done without a single trip to the fabric store. 

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

failing spectacularly

 Last January we set 3 big, lofty goals for ourselves and threw them out into the universe HERE. We were pretty sure we wouldn't complete any of them but it really lit a fire under us to get things cookin' around here. 


But let's focus on what was accomplished, shall we. 

We finally agreed on a color for our living room and halls and rid ourselves of that horrible split pea soup.

We also moved my studio to the smallest bedroom and gave that a fresh coat.

I even snuck in a little paint project that wasn't on the list, our front door. 

 And after:

The color is Emerald by Pantone and I realize it's looking a little Miami Vice with the gold knob but that will be changing very soon. 

As for the crackle finish in the rest of the entryway (and one of our baths) I gave it my all but it's not coming off. Therefore a small project has turned into a much larger one and gets moved down the list.


 Well, this plan has evolved a little to fit our needs. We decided to make the nook more of an office area with a desk top and bookshelves above. 

Here's a little look at our former bar:

And here's the progress we've made:

This project was rolling along nicely until is started to get cold outside and our garage renovation became the star of the show.

Before that happened though we, ahem, Dana, did some extensive drywall work and repaired several holes in the wall left from plumbing and electrical that was no longer in use. He also sanded down the horrible textured ceiling. You can check that work out HERE or HERE.

I painted and Dana put on the new baseboards and new electrical outlets, remember all of our old ones had been painted over.

 We have also acquired all of our repurposed materials to build said desk and bookshelves, including this awesome old school door.

And these vintage cabinets that I gave a little TLC to and added some school-desk style legs.

We are happy to have come this far until...well, who knows, for now it makes a perfect crafting nook for the little guy.
(I thrifted those yellow chairs for 4 bucks a pop, in case you wondered.)


Although the garage/studio/future-family-room renovation is far from finished, we have come a long way in a very short amount of time.

Try not to go blind as you look at the before:

Now, how about the serious progress that was made in the last couple of months, here's where we are:

New subfloor and drywall ready to hang.

Old duct work removed from wall and the beginnings of a new wall to disguise the concrete one.

Then, just before Christmas, we went from a ho-hum former garage-door wall to...

This!!! A rear facing window! How novel. Hello backyard! 
There is even a new back door waiting to be installed too, I can hardly contain myself.

An exterior before shot:

And Now.

 I think it looks like a cute little cottage now, don't you?

Yep, things are looking up around here, thanks mostly to my super handy husband.

I actually can't believe how much we have accomplished this year. Not just home improvements but all of the home sewing, business sewing, gardening, traveling, and attending to other parts of our house when something breaks (like our whole weekend devoted to finding a new dishwasher.)

We still have a long way to go, like decades, but this house is starting to become a home. All because we decided to stop stalling and be willing to fail...spectacularly.