Showing posts with label home improvement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home improvement. Show all posts

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cozy Cape Cottage Exterior - Spring 2015


My husband has been wanting some photos of the exterior of our house for quite awhile now that it's basically finished. (yeah, there's still some actual "finishing" stuff that needs to happen, maybe it will, maybe it won't! And landscaping, not our forte, will always be a work in progress.) Our crabapple tree, which has been sort of sickly for a few years, was starting to bloom a couple of weeks ago, so I walked around across the street taking pictures and feeling sort of embarrassed about it!



The different colored patch of grass at the bottom of the photo above is where the city laid sod last year after upgrading our gas lines. Hopefully if we overseed the yard for the next couple seasons it will eventually blend in!


(can you spot the puppy watching me from the window?)



I read somewhere once that chives are a good companion plant for crabapples, so I planted some by our sick tree. Maybe I cured it?! (probably not, but I do love harvesting them for sour cream and chive baked potatoes!)





These last couple of images show some of our "green" upgrades. We have two rain barrels, one next to the front door (my husband tried to fight me on it, but I insisted, and I think it looks fine) and one off the back of the garage. This way I don't have to haul the watering cans too far. We use Save the Rain (affiliate links) diverters to allow rainwater to bypass the barrels and just go down the gutter when they are full. This happens to us a lot - if we're getting a lot of rain, there isn't much need to use the water in the barrels, so they fill up in the spring! I just keep tabs on the water level as I use it later in the summer, and when it's getting low, I just flip down the diverter and it refills with the next rainshower. We've had these for several years now, and they work great.

You can also see our retractable clothesline in that last photo of the garage. Admittedly I don't get to hang our laundry out as much as I'd like - our backyard is really shaded and clothes don't quite dry if I try to hang them out after work, which limits me to dry weekend days in the summer only. (I've tried in the winter, and again, things just don't get dry even after a whole day out there!) We have this same one in our basement which I use year round. The link above also includes the pole, which is across the yard not pictured. I just have to stretch it out, and I've got a ton of drying space! We leave the clothesline box up all year (according to Amazon I bought this in 2009 and it's holding up just fine out there!), and we bring the pole inside the garage in the winter. The base is anchored in concrete in a planting bed, and there is a plastic cover that screws on to keep it from filling up with water when the pole is not attached. Then in the summertime, we just bring the pole out and it clips onto the base. This was a compromise between us, because I wanted to be able to dry clothes outside and my husband didn't want to look at or duck under lines all year - this system has been working out very well for us!

Lastly, you can see a peek of our compost bin next to the back door. (sort of - it's black and in shadow!) We have this model through our local sewerage district. They've been doing annual one day sales for a few years, and I was happy to upgrade to this "real" bin after my makeshift "plastic bin with holes drilled into it" completely fell apart after a few years of use. Ideally I'd have a second one so I could let the compost age for another year, but this works well enough that we have enough to add to our small garden. My husband wants to build a fancy 3 bin system behind the garage, but that's been an idea for several years now, so we'll see! For now we just have this one and a large brush pile behind the garage. I do love having this right by the back door. I think we'd be pretty unlikely to use it if we had to walk behind the detached garage in the snow! Again, we've been doing this for several years, so it's a pretty road tested system for us. We don't notice any smell from it, and we probably only turn it once a year when we sift out the finished compost in the spring. I do notice some gnats, but only when I open the lid to toss stuff in a couple times a week...or if I cook lol! We sit on the patio very nearby the bin, and there definitely aren't a bunch of gnats swarming around when the lid is on.

I wasn't actually planning to go into a lot of detail about this yard stuff, but I guess I did, so I hope it's helpful!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Works in Progress

Ah spring. Tis the season for spring cleaning, yes? However, since I don't feel like PHYSICALLY tidying anything, I've focused on getting my lists cleaned up. Let's pretend that's a thing. I've updated my goodreads page and my ravelry projects, as well as the projects page here on my website. Funny, how even though it's just cataloging things I've already done (and even the list of things I just INTEND to do), it makes me feel so much more accomplished.

With that, here's a little status update of what I've got going on currently.


I'm working on some stretchy ribbed tube socks, brightly colored in hopes they will actually be worn. If not....I might be done making kid socks. I'm using the toddler tube sock recipe by the Knitmore Girls, with the change of working them toe up. I think I'll run through the color sequence one more time so that bubble gum pink lands on top. The yarn is Knitpicks Felici, snapped up the last time it was available.



Not to be outshone by a toddler, I'm also working on socks for me. As I'm starting to amass a bit of a stockpile of sock yarn, I decided that self striping yarns would be a simple stockinette pattern, while solid colors should be knit into a pattern for a little interest. This tweedy sock yarn, also from Knitpicks, may have caused me to stumble a bit though. I'm working the Uncommon Dragon chart from Lara Neel's Sock Architecture (affiliate link), again, modified to work toe up. (I think I'll just do a different kind of heel than written. This is one of the few patterns from this book written ONLY for top down, due to the pattern flowing right into the heel. I don't know if I have the brainpower to make that work upside down - working the chart upside down is enough of a head trip, especially since charts are new territory for me!) In the end, the socks will still be wonderful to have, and learning to read charts is great for developing my skills, but the pattern gets a bit lost with the texture of the yarn. I think it stands out a bit more in person, but honestly not that much. Oh well - I'm still enjoying it!



Speaking of being new to charts, well of course I would go ahead and cast on not one, but TWO charted projects! I did eventually cast on the sweater that I couldn't quite face a few months back. What, you can't tell that's a sweater? If you need a better visual, it's the Brooklyn Bridge Cardigan by Melissa Wehrle from her fantastic book Metropolitan Knits. (affiliate link) This one is definitely going to take a while. I've been tending to knit on it only at knitting group once a week, so it's only growing about 4 rows at a time thanks to my decision to knit it all in one piece. It's also black, in fingering weight yarn, which seems to horrify everyone....but it's something that I KNOW will get a lot of use in my wardrobe. That's the kind of knitter I am. I like to knit for the process, but I also like having the finished object and knowing it's something that will fit into my lifestyle. I try not to be seduced by pretty yarns in the skein if I can't honestly see them being something I would love to wear as much as look at. The sweater so far is pretty basic, mostly stockinette with a lace panel up the fronts. That rolled edge at the bottom (this is worked bottom up) will eventually be sewn down as a nice tidy hem, and the front has an i-cord edging that is worked as you go. Ideally it's worked starting right above the hem, but some knitters forget to read the directions fully when trying to mash together the chart, the i-cord, the two fronts and the back and may or may not have started it a few rows late, and decided that it definitely wasn't worth the trouble to rip it back after having cast the darn thing on three times. I'm not naming names, but I think you can guess who I'm talking about.


Last I've been meaning to pick away at giving the studio both some organization and some actual decorating. Way back in September, I saw a burlap covered pinboard and knew I must have one.




Another thing I apparently also must have is a stronger pair of shears. 


I feel like I've heard of a million different people using homosote for an economical way to DIY huge pinboards. Can I tell you what a pain it was to find this stuff? I looked it up on Home Depot's website, and since it autocompleted and showed me a picture of something that looked right, I assumed they had it. Yes? NO. What actually popped up in the search was MDF, but I wasn't reading carefully. There is no way I'm going to push a pushpin through MDF, so that was definitely not going to work. I was on limited shopping time and was feeling too impatient to go somewhere else, so I punted. I thought, well I could use some insulation board as the substrate, and put some of that cork roll on it to better hold the pins, and then I can just wrap the whole thing in burlap and no one will be the wiser. Who knows, this may have actually worked, but the guy at Home Depot that day.....wow. I grabbed a 4'x8' sheet of insulation, and asked if he could cut it into 2' strips so that I could get it into my car. So he whips out a blade and just starts slicing! I asked, well....are you going to measure that? He said, no, there are marks here that are 2'. He hands me a terribly crookedly sliced piece of foam that is definitely NOT 2' wide, which I pointed out to him with actual measuring. He shrugged and kept cutting. I said, look, I am ACTUALLY looking for 2x4 pieces, so can we just start with a new piece? He grumbled but did actually go to get a new piece, which he measured and cut....I could see that it was still a bit crooked but I tried to convince myself that it would be ok. I paid and went to put it in the car....and these pieces. They were just. Wow, so bad. I sat down and sighed and thought....do I feel like dealing with this later? The answer was no, so I just grabbed the foam and the cork and walked back inside to return them. Later on, I searched out other home improvement stores and found exactly what I was originally looking for at Menards. I'd like to say I've learned a lesson about not being impatient and just making do, but I can't be certain that is not a lie.


Speaking of being impatient, I did straighten out that fabric on the right so it's not quite as crooked. It's still a little crooked, but it's better. I need another pair of hands to help me out hanging these, so they are just leaning on the still unfinished bench for now. I think I might paint and mount a strip of pegboard between them for things like rulers and such. It's a quick turn around from the cutting table, so I think that will be handy.



Last but not least for now, I'm still chipping at that quilt. I'm getting closer! I laid out the batting again, and need about one more row of blocks on one of the short sides and one of the long sides. I've also started figuring out how I'm going to square off the edges. Not pictured yet, but I think it will work. Now my trick is to lay out the last of the flowers without getting similar patterns too close together! I think I'll have to cut a little more fabric to make that happen. I'll probably use some of the already cut scraps to piece a little bit of the backing. Next quilt.....will DEFINITELY be machine pieced!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Renting a Rug Doctor

My very first job was at the local Pick N Save grocery store. I was a cashier and service desk clerk, and I worked there for....3 years I think? Over that time, one of my responsibilities was to help people rent that little red carpet scrubber machine....and now (a bunch of) years later, I'm the one making the rental.


Honestly I'd never given it much thought. I don't remember my parents ever using one of these in the house I grew up in, and later on they built a house and had a crew come in and scrub everything from time to time. I DO know that on the day I rented the Rug Doctor, I was in a really foul mood. You see, I'd finally picked out a rug for the "den" area of my remodeled studio. ((link to rug) When it arrived, I wasn't certain it was the ONE, but I spread it out thinking I'd either get used to it or I'd return it.

However.....disaster soon struck.


All of those white spots are the result of an unhappy cat - not sure if it was unhappy bowels, attitude or both. This discovery made ME so unhappy I couldn't deal with it, so my husband did, and he was rather aggressive on the Resolve and not so much on the rinsing, so those white spots are not only discolored, but also rather crusty. I went down several times with a bucket of water and a scrub brush, and this was as good as I could get. I thought maybe it was actually bleached, but I decided to give it one more chance with a heavy duty scrubber, and re-evaluate my options after.

I got the medium sized bottle of the Oxy-Steam Carpet Cleaner solution (I opted against the pet formula because the pet portion of the stain was already gone. I also opted against the upgrade version of Oxy-Steam because it was bigger and I didn't need that much, and I was already irritated about having to spend any money on this in the first place.) My total cost was $50, including a $10 deposit. Operation was pretty simple. It was easy to remove the whitish reservoir to put in the diluted solution, and it wasn't heavy at all to pull. It operates by pushing a button to get the water and scrubbers going while you pull it backward. If you don't push the button, it runs as a heavy duty vacuum. One thing I'll say is that if you're doing a rug, you need another person to stand on the edge so the whole thing doesn't get pulled back into the vacuum, which has pretty strong suction. Obviously this isn't an issue with carpeting which is attached to the floor! I also had quite a lot of excess water, even after going over it a few times with just the vacuum function, so I ended up laying it out on the concrete portion of the basement to dry so as not to cause the vinyl flooring to pop up with all that moisture sitting on it. I also draped it over a coffee table to get some air to the underside after a day or two.

The results?


I'd give it a solid "decent." With the comparison of the before and after photos, you can still see the outline of the original stain. Everything feels the same texture now - no more crusty spots - and it's not quite so obvious in person where the problem areas are. Part of the issue honestly is probably the rug itself. It's viscose, and has both sheen and direction to it. It's sort of like microfiber in that you can rub your hand on it one way or the other and see its path. I'm hoping that both with regular vacuuming and a coffee table in the middle (you can see one of its bright footprint on the upper right above, which also demonstrates that this rug shows tracks if you breathe on it), that the rug will be ok in the basement studio. If I had endless money, I'd replace it with something else, but I don't, so I can at least rest in the fact that it's definitely CLEAN, even if it doesn't look perfect. I also wouldn't buy a viscose rug again. This is just NOT a "messy person" friendly material.

To sum up - Rug Doctor = I'd use it again if I had to, but I hope I don't have to! Viscose rug = not thrilled, wouldn't buy again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It may not be pretty

...but at least I'm moving.


Slowly, slowly, I'm staining, painting, polying. My usual problem with painted/poly-ed surfaces is that I get too impatient and don't allow enough drying time between coats, resulting in a sticky surface. That won't be a problem this time! I can basically get a coat on something every couple of days....and I'm sure it's about a week by the time I get back around to the beginning.

It's a good thing I'm in the mood (sort of) for painting. I keep turning around and finding spots like this that I just straight up missed when I had this color out for touch ups.









I rented a carpet scrubber to try to solve the unspeakable horrors done to my rug. The jury is still out on whether or not it worked - it's taking a long time to dry despite dehumidifiers and fans pointed in its direction. An afternoon rest outside caused, well, a frozen rug. I did learn that you can't JUST shampoo the middle part of the rug where the nonsense happened. As it started to dry, there was a definite visible line where I'd scrubbed and where I didn't. Luckily I'd prepared for such a thing and had enough time to RE-scrub before returning the machine. Long story short....I don't recommend a viscose rug. I'm not sure anyone will ever be allowed to touch it if it comes out of all this looking ok.

As I have absolutely nothing finished to show you, I'll leave you with this. What is wrong with the world. The My Little Ponys of my day were nowhere near this terrifying. Or....vertical. I'm so confused.




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Woodworker I am not

I feel like the cutting table is the lynch pin to this whole sewing studio remodel project....and construction has begun! I've been agonizing for weeks about what sort of style I'd like to shoot for. I love the aged and whitewashed finishes I've seen lately on blogs like Yellow Brick Home and I Heart Organizing....but I've been on the fence. My sister has been advising me against it, so I'd been willing to be pushed one way or another. 


While shopping for lumber, I sent her one last photo to give me a final vote. A stack of navy swatches I'm thinking about for the base, and either a white wash stain, or straight up natural oil. The verdict? Well, I definitely brought one home...and I'll save the results for later!


Meanwhile, I'm SO getting a label maker at some stage of this renovation....I canNOT handle this!!! Do you see an extension cord somewhere in there? Please?


I sort of felt like I was channeling a toddler at many points this weekend...."I do it mySELF!" There's a fair chance that this table might be equal parts wood and wood filler....but at least all my limbs and appendages are intact, and I think I only got one splinter.


I spent a lot of time boxing myself in.



See above for some of my soon-to-be-wood-filler-filled-mistakes....and the reason I now understand why everyone in blog land is obsessed with the Kreg Jig. That's the second bit I snapped by the way. I only have, oh, approximately 16 holes that need to be drilled on an angle, and a billion that go at 90 degree angles. I snapped both bit within about an hour of one another on those angled holes. That pretty much put an end to my progress. But in better news, I've acquired two new bits and I'm hoping to make more progress as soon as I get a few free hours!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The best use of my time

It's been a totally crazy couple of weeks at work, and it doesn't look like that's going to let up anytime before the end of the year. It was one of those weeks where I really had to push beyond my comfort zone and take on tasks and responsibilities that I haven't done before. I won't say everything went perfectly, but we all survived and no one cried, so that's pretty good, right? All that to say that to make the deadline I had to shuffle up my work schedule and blogging fell off the list. Anyone miss me? :)

Also, remember how I devoted myself to finishing things?



Whoopsie...I got distracted. Apparently I thought shiny new things were more important than my finishing promise to myself.

The orange hat is to go along with last year's pumpkin costume - it still fits (I'm pretty sure...), the hat no longer does.


I basically took the idea from the split brim toddler hat but used the worsted weight yarn I had on hand. I modified the stitch count based on Tin Can Knit's Barley hat, and completely forgot to pay attention to the rate of increases, which is why the top is pointier than I'd intended. I also didn't feel like ripping it back, so I stuck a pompom on it and called it a day. Also, toddlers who hate hats love hats with pompoms. Just FYI.

And the slippers? Well...I got cold. While I love love love my tall slipper socks, I don't like wearing them with non-skinny jeans/leggings, so I've been thinking about a new short slipper pattern for a while. According to Pinterest, I learned about thrums approximately 36 weeks ago, and they popped into my head again last week thanks to Ysolda's series of posts about them. What's a thrum? Short story, it's a cloud of soft and warm that evidently sort of turns into a weatherproof felt layer as you wear it.


I love her pattern, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. I started working on my own basically by just adding thrums to a pattern I've had in my library for about 5 months. It turned out ok, but not perfect. It fits and all, but because it was worked top down, I couldn't try it on until it was finished. I have some plans hatching to figure out a way to work them toe up....and the bonus is that the little "hearts" made by the super warm thrums will be right side up if I go toe up!

Oh, and I've got this on the horizon....


It's also possible I bought this screen printing kit: (affiliate link)



Yep. I clearly cannot decide on the best use of my time. On the bright side, I haven't totally
abandoned my goals - I've definitely worked on both my socks and my sweater (just enough to realize that I'd missed one of those dastardly "at the same time" directions, so I'll be looking into the adventure of an afterthought buttonhole in the future!) this week, so I'm not a total scatterbrained disaster!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Getting closer...the basement studio

As I tend to do from time to time, I've totally switched gears with the aesthetic for the basement studio from my last update. While I totally love and appreciate the all white, Scandinavian look...it's just not MY look. I was just afraid of the whole space looking far too cold and "basement." Yes, I probably could warm up the space with white floors with enough textiles and wood, but this has sort of cost quite a bit more than I already loosely planned to spend. I also could have epoxied the floor and redone it with a laminate if I decided I hated it, but again, that's both more money and more time, another thing of which I've spent more than I hoped!

So. I changed my mind.





We decided to go the safe route, and put in a wood-look laminate (I can't find a link, but I picked it up on a sale at HOBO for about $1.50/square foot). I debated back and forth in the store for quite a while between the wood we chose, which has the same tone as the rest of our house, and something more like a wide, rustic plank, and a couple of white washed options. In the end I decided it made most sense to match the rest of the house. Installation was pretty easy. In fact, the hardest part was just getting all the drywall mud and dust and general construction yuck off the floor! Our floors are not at all level, so we filled in the obvious holes as best we could. I do have some concerns about the adhesive - these were peel and stick, rather than a product with a separate adhesive. We walked all over it many times, and used a roller as well, but I can still feel a few spots that aren't perfectly adhered. I think we will wait and see if anything pops up, and maybe consider a separate adhesive to re-stick some of the looser pieces.

So with the flooring and trim largely done, I got a very large dose of impatience, and apparently some sort of super strength delusions, because I decided that it was perfectly feasible to move these into the room all by myself.


If you know me in life, you know that I'm not what you might call muscular. And if you know these couches in life, you know that the bigger one has a couple of recliners built in, which makes it about a billion pounds.





It was a bit of an experience, but I managed the little one without too much trouble. The bigger one? Well, I don't have any pictures because if I'd stopped to document the process it's possible I may have been crushed and killed. There was a lot of sweating, relatively little cursing, and I only got pinned into weird places about twice. But I did it!

With the couches in place, I could start bringing in some of the other furniture. I placed the rug that was in the current sewing room (which still has some residual oxy-clean spots from a red wine incident which was too aggressively treated and not at all well enough rinsed. I'm working on it.) as well as the filing cabinet, sewing table (the long one) and computer desk.


Yeah, that's not going to work. The current setup is the same, but without the computer desk, and fits just fine on the rug. When I drew up the plans, I was lazy and didn't bother to actually measure anything and just guessed at the dimensions. And apparently I guessed wrong.


Nope. Weird dead corner, and completely non-functional file cabinet.


Hey, ok! Not terrible, this could work! (I don't actually love, or even like the file cabinet, but we do need somewhere to file household things, so it stays somewhere in the works. In fact it's moved again since this was taken, but the work surfaces are still there.)


Oh....just look at all of that space to lay things out, free of computer and associated cables!


And the soon to be (I hope) someday best part....planning for the cutting table!!!

(I'm testing out sharing my posts with a few link parties. I've linked up to Kathe with an E, Pam's Party and Practical Tips and Vintage Paint and More.)