The August Recap

If I didn’t have this blog, I’m not sure I’d remember any of the things that happen in my life, and the stuff that makes it in the blog is just the half of it. August has been a busy month at the big white house on the hill.

I’ve fought with wildlife in Manly Yes. Irish Spring soap might keep me out of the garden, it’s certainly smelling up the laundry room, but it hasn’t seemed to keep the wildlife away. I moaned and groaned about animals eating my vegetables in Garden Envy.  I’d pulled up the poor remains of my beans, emptied the a bunch of seed packets, and surrounded them in netting structures, only to find holes.

holes

Some readers have been concerned that the dirt is poor quality, this is a super-close-up, and I’ve boosted the color so you can see the tiny seedlings. I’m not having trouble with the seeds sprouting just having them torn up and eaten. I stuck a few rocks in the holes, and called it good.

Maybe I’ll just have to plant our pests least favorite foods. They haven’t bothered the asparagus and have only eaten a few bites out of the tomatoes.

chopped tomatoes

We have enough zucchini to share with all the pests, and they’ve mostly left it alone. I was able to send a bag of apples, tomatoes, and zucchini down to Sweet Miss when Baby Girl visited her over the weekend. If you have enough produce to share, it’s not all bad.

With our long weekend in Kansas for my nephew’s wedding, we explored a little Old Time Charm at our rental apartment. While it’s not really my style, it’s fun to get new ideas. The owner’s have taken what most would call junk and thrown out and turned it into something fun.

Wood Art

I like the way they’ve taken chances with their decorating and embraced their own unique style.

Baby Girl had a friend over the other night. This young one, looked at me with a smile and raised eyebrows. “Kim, are you making Christmas trees in August?” I just owned my craziness and freely admitted I was. I told her I was going to be busy in November, and now seemed like a good time.

Christmas in August has been going great guns. I ordered a ton of ribbon from PaperMart, I’ve used them in the past and they offer a lot of ribbon at a reasonable price.  Now I’ve gone from a few trees to a veritable forest.

Ribbon

Reasonable styrofoam cones are a little harder to come by, but I’ve picked up some on Ebay and at JoAnn’s with coupons. I’m excited for our new “woodsy” look for Christmas.

Moving on Up, my big plan to turn Sweet Miss’ old room into my sewing room, has stalled out. I’ve moved out a desk and a dresser, but we still have another dresser to go. And then me and the MR were talking, and he suggested new carpet and paint before moving my craft things upstairs into Sweet Miss’ old room.

I checked Ikea online and tried to figure out what wardrobes I’d need for the wall project and got totally confused. So for now, I’ve turned the bed sideways, vacuumed, dusted, and blocked a sweater upstairs. It’s a beginning.

We were talking to a friend of the MR’s the other night, and I was shocked when he started asking about my craft room. On his first visit to the house he’d noticed cobwebs and bugs in my room off the garage. He thought I needed a better area, and he didn’t even know about the mice.

When a man is concerned about your creative space, it’s time for an upgrade.  I know it’ll happen, but this one is going to take some time.

It’s kind of sad that we’ve only used our new lamp to Light It Up a few times this month. We’ve still been enjoying long evenings on the deck. Once fall arrives, it will definitely come in handy. Until then, it can just  stand around looking pretty.

New Light

Ominous Skies was my shout out to the people impacted by the wildfires in eastern Washington. An area roughly the size of Rhode Island was on fire a few days ago. I don’t know if our recent rainfall reached the eastern part of the state, but we’re hoping for the best in what’s being called the worst wildfire season in state history.

Finally, Wrapped in a Cloud was all about splurging on the everyday. When your towels look a lot like the ones you wipe the dogs’ feet with, it’s time for something new. It’s only been a few days, but if these bamboo and cotton blend towels from Snuggledown keep performing well, I’ll be adding to my collection. Two bath towels does look a little chintzy. If you figure out the per use cost, these’ll be less than a latte in no time.

New Towels 3

Now just for fun, I thought I’d share a few things that didn’t make it in the blog. The first weekend was my nephew’s wedding. The next weekend, Sweet Miss and her roomies road-tripped it on up. We did a little early celebrating for her 21st birthday. Then me and the MR went out to dinner in honor of 24 years of wedded bliss.

The last week has been a flurry of visiting with old friends, celebrating the MR’s 30th high school reunion, picnics, more birthdays, and a marathon shopping trip to outfit Baby Girl’s dorm room.

Oh, and if bees are buzzing all around your umbrella, they’re probably up to something.

Wasps

The MR buys a lot of wasp spray. It hasn’t been very effective with the stump on the slope by the orchard. The MR throws dirt on it now and then, and I’m just avoiding it. Oh and me and Baby Girl have both enjoyed a plucot (apparently plumcot is trademarked). In case you’re wondering, it was delicious. Next year, I’m planning on more than six—if only our tree cooperates.

How was your August? 

 

 

 

 

Wrapped in a Cloud

I’m not talking about the fog that shrouds our home in a blanket of white, or the smoke that’s blown in from the wild fires north and east of here. I’m talking about towels; crazy, awesome, luxury towels.
Now my mom worked for JCPenney for more than 30 years in the bed and bath department. Towels were something we were never hurting for. In fact, though she’s been gone for more than 10 years now, when Sweet Miss was outfitting her duplex, we visited Papa and he showed us a linen closet filled with towels for her to choose from.
I’ve never been that picky about towels; my mom would just give us a new set periodically. Then we moved here, and I had three full bathrooms to supply with towels. At our last home, the girls had always shared a bathroom with guests.
I thought maybe white towels would be a good choice for the guest suite. Oprah told her TV audience that all her towels were white; who am I to argue with Oprah? Then I began living with hard water coupled with a septic system. The towels were looking dingy, but bleach would throw the system out of whack. Maybe white wasn’t the best choice after all.
When the MR finished remodeling the bathroom in the girls wing, I thought bright blue-green would be pretty and picked up some fluffy towels at a discount retailer. They were soft and beautiful—perfect. Fast forward a year, and they’re showing runs and spots.
I decided to throw away my frugal tendencies and see what kind of fancy towels they have out there. I’m tired of looking at all those mismatched towels on our open shelves. (OK, so I probably should clean out and organize the rest of the shelves, but let’s handle one thing at a time.)

Best Messy

Towels are a simple luxury used daily; a little splurge wouldn’t hurt. After researching on Pinterest, I chose Cuddledown’s Daisy House bamboo towels in pewter. They’re a nice contrast to the white shelving, won’t show spots, and not as prone to fading as a navy towel would be.

They arrived yesterday.

Towels in a box

As I unwrapped each one, I made Baby Girl feel the amazing softness. I knew I’d gone a little over the top when she smiled, nodded her head, and told me yes mom, they’re very soft.  Sometimes I can get obsessive. I’d realed it in a little by the time the MR came home, but he had to feel them, too.

Enough about the the softness, how did they look? These babies cost too much for me to just blindly buy a stack of them, so I bought two of each. We’re testing them out first. Doing a little research, they’re not that much more than the regular price of towels at Penneys; I guess I’m just cheap.

New Towels 2

Nice, neat, tidy, they looked perfect. I swapped out the MR’s old towel for one of these new ones. He’d get to try them out first.

New Towels 3

Imagine my surprise when the MR told me as he was leaving this morning “wait till you take a shower”. That’s huge praise from my very low-key guy; he rarely comments on anything. I was almost convinced to hop out of bed and take a shower right then and there before the sun rose—almost.

A few hours later, after my trip to the gym, I was shocked at how absorbent these babies are. It’s like they suck the water totally away.

OK, so this is still the honeymoon phase; I haven’t washed them over and over again. I don’t know how they’ll stand up to regular wear and tear, but so far I’m very impressed.

The towels are 57% cotton and 43% rayon from bamboo. The label reads:

Indulge yourself in its supreme and unrivalled softness.
Experience its superior abosorption.
Enjoy day after day the comfort of pure natural bamboo fibre.

That’s totally the plan. If these pan out, I’ll be filling the bottom shelf with soft, absorbent, hard-wearing towels.

Who knows, maybe I’ll buy some for the guest bedroom, too.  Check out Cuddledown to see if they have the towels for you.

Do you have a favorite brand of towels? How about sheets? I’m in the market for them, too.

Ominous Skies

Sometimes life surprises you. We woke this weekend to strangely white skies. It wasn’t the bright white of a foggy morning that would melt away with the sun but a gray, pervasive white with menacing overtones.
smoky skies
Yesterday, 920 square miles of eastern Washington were on fire, and the smoke has blown across the mountains filling our skies. Last year when we were on vacation, the MR met a family who had lost their home and our waitress was frantic with fear as fires were headed towards her town.
Our prayers go out to the people of the west for safety, for rain, for the winds to die down. We are thankful to the firefighters, police officers, and the many nameless volunteers who are working to protect and serve.

Garden Envy

I have fallen victim to the sin of envy. My friends post on Facebook about their killer gardens overflowing with vegetables, and I grumble. They live in the country; why don’t the animals ruin their garden, too? So evil.

I bluntly tell Baby Girl that nothing’s growing this year—pout, stomp, grrr. I know I’m acting childish, and I’m totally overreacting, but it’s just been so frustrating.

A young mom I know is trying her hand at canning beans for the first time. My beans looked like this before I dug them up last weekend.

beans

 

That one tiny sprig of green was not enough to give me hope of a harvest, but it could be a sign that the stinky soap I hung on the garden fence is working to stave off animal invaders.

This year hasn’t been a total fail. We’ve been growing a lot of zucchini. Somehow my intention to buy one plant turned into a pony-pack. We’ve enjoyed zucchini fritters, zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, zucchini brownies, zucchini baba ganoush, and we still have plenty more.

The MR mentioned that he didn’t really like zucchini growing up, and I admitted I didn’t either. That’s why I didn’t feel guilty leaving a few zucchini sitting out after a recent rainstorm. I figured I’d use them as bait to see if the soap was really keeping animals away.

zucchini

After four or five days, I haven’t seen any fresh teeth marks. It may be working, or our animal intruder is tired of zucchini, too.

While the garden is a bit of a bust at the moment, you’ll notice my marigolds are looking great. I planted them to keep the slugs away from the beans, peas, beets, and lettuce. Animals in turn have decimated all of the above, but these orange beauties are thriving.

marigolds

 

Ever the optimist—don’t laugh—I figured maybe a late summer planting would fare better. I went through my seed box and planted a few beets, onions, spinach, and carrots. With maturity dates less than 60 days, I’m looking for good things come October.

Amidst all my gloom and doom, I did manage to make a tasty salad with onions, cucumber, tomatoes, and basil all from our own garden.

Tomato cucumber salad

I’ve been picking a pint or two or blueberries, currants, and recently blackberries since June. And the apples I’ve been enjoying with breakfast and lunch, I picked from our orchard. So along with disappointment, we have had many successes. The tomatoes have just begun to ripen. I have eight Roma tomatoes on the counter ready for dinner, and the branches of my plants are loaded.

There’s a special feeling of accomplishment when you eat a meal composed of food you’ve grown yourself. I guess I’ll just have to be content with what we have rather than all I want.

My dad always said farmers were the biggest gamblers; I see his point.

How is your garden? Have any amazing zucchini recipes to share?

Light It Up

I love the long, lazy evenings of summer with sunset past nine. Evenings on the deck enjoying the warmth of the day. Those days are slipping away. The sun goes down around 8 pm, and we’ve had a few days of rain and cool weather—better suited for a blanket and tea rather than a chat outdoors.

Before we know it, fall will be upon us, and we’ll need to turn on the lights in early afternoon. We have lots of  overhead lights in this house. With 40 some switches in the great room, this is not a point to be debated. But sometimes, it’s nice to have a lamp, a little lower, more focused, and more cozy.

Back when the interior designers were sketching out our living area, they added a few floor lamps. One we bought; the other we skipped for the moment. It was alright, but for $500 I’d like to be a bit more excited about something I buy.

So we’ve made do with this one we’ve had for years. The original lampshade was broken during a sleepover—think of eight girls in sleeping bags in a small living room. We’d replaced the shade, and it was perfectly fine at our old house.

Old Light

 

But it didn’t really match the modern/retro vibe we have going on here. I figured we had time to find something we liked. Well, I was in town a few weeks ago, buying yarn to finish a project, and happened to be just down the street from a lighting store.

While Seattle Lighting has a wide range of lights from traditional to modern, the George Kovacs Needle Lamp caught my eye. The MR gave it a thumbs up, and now we are the proud owners of a new lamp.

New Light

You can tell Baby Girl was super enthralled with my light and my photos. She did move her feet when they were in the shot.

While they didn’t have this particular lamp in stock, the store was able to order it from the Portland store and have it shipped up here free of charge. It’s on the MR’s way home from work, so he picked it up for me on Friday, and I put it together over the weekend.

I think it looks great behind the chaisse, and I love the Space Needle feel of the design.

New Light FTOS 2

 

This is one of my favorite places to sit. You can find me drinking my coffee, reading my Bible, and catching up on emails here every morning. So I’m looking forward to having a little light when the MR is watching sci-fi or action in the evenings. I can knit and pretend to pay attention to alien invasions and macho guys with guns.

New Light close

 

It’s a small change, but I like how it adds to the cohesive feel of the room.

Now I need to move on to the dining area, and the office area, and the entry, and the deck. Looks like we have a lot yet to figure out.

Making any changes at your house? How does your home change with the seasons?

(By the by, it’s me and the MR’s 24th wedding anniversary today. I’m enjoying living life with my guy.)

Moving On Up

You know how you want your kids to grow up and make their own way in life? And then when they move out, they leave behind an empty room, and you miss them?

I was catching up with my uncle at my nephew’s wedding. When his grandson moved out, his son had set up exercise equipment into that room the very same day.

Sweet Miss did move down to Oregon back in June, and I’ve been telling her that her bedroom is going to be the new sewing room for months. But she was coming with her friends to visit, and the MR is talking about painters and new carpet, and I just wanted a space here she could call her own.

Sometimes you have to embrace the fact that life moves on. So yesterday, on Sweet Miss’ 21st birthday, I started cleaning, and vacuuming, and packing. She may have only lived here for a few months before heading off to college, but her room was still filled with the stuff of life.

You may be wondering why I’d want to leave my cute sewing room off the garage. (You can check it out here.) Well, Sweet Miss’ room is just one floor up, and almost the same size and shape. It has modern luxeries like heat and air conditioning. And probably the biggest draw is fewer issues with mice.

The MR routinely catches mice in the wine cellar, the garage, and the well room. Let’s just say, my sewing room is surrounded. I’ve found droppings in my yarn, droppings in my embroidery floss, droppings in my fabric. You get the picture.

The new sewing room still has a wall of windows, albeit shorter and fewer. Since the windows are lower, I won’t have to have my desk so high and will be able to sit down while I sew—another added bonus.

Wall of Windows

 

Often when Sweet Miss comes home, we have other visitors, so we’ll keep her old bed but place it flat against the wall to allow for more room.

Bed Dressers

 

Ages ago, we had a less vibrant comforter. I’ll have to track it down or find something new.

Along that bright green wall, I have big plans.

Bed Desk Dresser

 

A wall of built-ins would add a ton of storage and make good use of a small space. I saw this Ikea hack on Pinterest years ago from Domino Magazine.

Ikea hack

 

This looks truly amazing—tons of storage, a small footprint, and very chic.  I like the way the designer added mirrors to the doors to visually expand the space. Using the same wall color for the cabinets adds to the built-in look and makes it all flow together. Maybe we can even camouflage our weird angles.

Sweet Miss has a stash of things in the closet, so this would add storage for guests and for all my sewing, knitting, crafting, beading supplies.

For now, I’ve started cleaning and removed everything from the walls. In a perfect world, we’ll have room for the cabinetry and for a double bed plus my sewing and cutting tables. I guess I need to do a little measuring, too.

This room has big changes in the future. It will no longer look like Sweet Miss when she comes home, but I know she’ll find a warm and welcoming haven on her visits.

Making changes at your house? What did your kids’ rooms become when they left home?

 

Christmas in August

I used to see those Christmas in July ads and totally roll my eyes. Who wants to think about Christmas when you can take the kids to the park or hang out at the beach? We have months before we have to think about the holidays.

Then there was the year the MR coached soccer four nights a week plus games on Saturdays, and then there were the volleyball years coupled with all the back-to-school events and evenings of Calculus homework. By the time that was over, we’d be hosting 20 for Thanksgiving and getting ready to decorate for Christmas that same weekend.

Somehow all those cute projects I planned went by the wayside. So this year, I’m starting early. I planned on my own little Christmas in July post, but that time’s come and gone. You’ll just have to suffer through Christmas in August with me.

It started months ago when I made up a bunch of gift tags—no last minute scurrying around here.

Gift Tags 2

 

I’m rather in love with the goofy polar bears from Baby Girl’s Christmas pajamas last year. If I can keep on top of things, I’d like to make cute pillows and decorations in the polar bear theme. So far, we have gift tags; it’s a start. (You can check out my gift tag making tricks at Wrap It Up in Style. I’m not that tricky; it’s really just Heat-N-Bond.)

I’ve also been stock piling green ribbon for a project I knew would be wonderful. You know how you check out Pinterest and they have all these great ideas, and then you see something that’s cute but not quite right?

Well, I saw a really fun Valentine Ribbon Tree from JoAnn Fabrics.

Valentine Ribbon Tree

It’s cute, but I’m not really that into foofy Valentine trees. Wouldn’t this be even better as a forest of little green trees on the window ledges? I’d probably only need 30 or 40 of them. So like I said, I’ve been collecting green ribbon, and thinking about it for a year, maybe two.

Yesterday, I finally got busy. First I cut my ribbon into 4-inch pieces.

Cutting Ribbon3

Then I gathered my supplies out on the deck and started pinning.

Supplies

 

That’s another bonus of starting Christmas projects now, I can work on them outside with a lovely view and comfortable temps. The project is truly simple. Just fold the ribbon in half and pin at the edges to a styrofoam cone.  Rubber bands came in handy as a guide when I was busy pinning in circles. They’re not perfect, but at least the rows are approaching level.

Tree in Progress Closeup

 

A few hours, a glass of wine, playing with the dogs, chatting with the MR, and I had these little lovelies.

Trees

 

I still have to decide whether they’d look better mounted on a glass or wood candlestick or perhaps a bit of wood. They might end up wonky and drive me crazy, so I might be better off leaving them as is. I also have time to decide whether I want to top them with a fancy gold star or keep them more forest-y with a green ribbon topper.

But hey, it’s August. I have time to figure things out. These babies eat up a lot of ribbon—more than 25 yards between the two of them. So if I’m really going to make a whole forest of trees, I need to buy ribbon in bulk. Styrofoam trees in bulk wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Again, I have the added blessing of time.

Who knows, I might even talk BG or the MR into trying their hand at tree making.  I’m sure they’d be experts.

Any Christmas crafting going on at your house? Are you ready for the back to school blitz?