Bringing Spring Indoors

It’s amazing how a little color can change the whole mood of a room. While I haven’t pulled out all my spring and summer decor, I did manage to add some color and whimsy to the pillows.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I’ve been searching for fabric for the entry benches for forever. I’ve looked at greens and grays and golds, but nothing seemed quite right. I decided a trip to one of our local independent stores (Pacific Fabrics and Crafts) might be the answer.

Well, they had lots of beautiful fabrics, but the bench fabric still eluded me. But I did see some really cute, cheery fabric with birds and birdhouses, cherries and branches. It was whimsical and fun and totally wrong for the benches, so I passed it up and kept looking.

Sometimes when something speaks to your heart, you just have to get it. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I was back to buy a little fabric that wasn’t modern or sleek or big, white house-ish. But it spoke to me of spring–kind of like Baby Girl’s Easter bouquet.

Easter Bouquet

I decided to give it a little edge by adding black trim, and that’s where things sat for a few months.

Spring Fabric with Black Trim

You see the beige background had just a hint of pink and none of the material I had on hand would work. I’d bought enough fabric to use for both sides, but I was hoping for a little extra, because I had something else in mind. So like I said, it all just sat in the sewing room while I waited for inspiration.

Then it hit me. If you don’t like the right-side, maybe the wrong-side will do. I have tons of old curtains from our last house that are just waiting to become something fabulous. While gold diamonds certainly wouldn’t work, the backside was creamy, marbled, a little iridescent, and just about perfect.

Two sides of back

 

I like making pocket pillow covers, since you don’t have to pay for a zipper, they don’t require hand-sewing, and the pillow form slips in easily. I’ve been following Celebrate Creativity for a month or two. She has some really wonderful ideas and recently showcased a Jacobean pillow with gorgeous embroidery on one side and just a little something-something on the other (check it out here).

I wasn’t up for any embroidery, but I did think a thick black band on the back of the pillow would add a little pizzazz. I had some fabric leftover from Baby Girl’s Halloween costume ages ago and decided it had just the right amount of sheen.

I cut a three inch strip, sewed the right-side of the black fabric to the wrong-side of the back of the pillow, and then ironed it flat.

Creating Back Band 2

Then I flipped the freshly ironed fabric to the right-side, folded the strip of black in half on itself, ironed it, and then folded it over again and sewed it into place. I’d love to show you photos, but somehow I forgot to take any after the first step. I hope it all makes sense. Since the black fabric was lighter weight than the drapery fabric, I didn’t want it to stand on its own at the edge.

For the front of the pillow, I used a zipper foot to attach the trim to the birdy tapestry.

Applying Trim 3

 

Then you just make a sandwich with right-sides together of the front of the pillow and the two overlapping pieces of the back. After sewing around the outside, clip the corners (to give them a sharper point), and turn the whole thing right-side out.

If it looks good, stuff the pillow, and you’re good to go. I turned the smaller half of the back wrong-side out again, slipped in the pillow, and then flipped it all right-side out–easy as can be.

Stuffing the Pillow 2Now let’s just take a look of my lovely new pillow in place.

Finished Bird Pillow closer

If one’s good, two must be better, so I actually made two of these lovelies. Baby Girl was on the couch, so you’ll have to just take my word for it. And I know you’re dying to find out how the back of the pillow turned out.

Back Band Surprise

It reminds me of the tuxedo stripe down a pant leg; I’m rather in love. If the front-side of the pillow winds up getting rumpled, I’ll had a few snaps along the band to keep everything in place.

And since I was in the sewing mood, I decided to finish up one of my old projects. I have a green, leaf-motif scarf that I love the texture and pattern of. A few years ago, I decided to make up “mini” scarves to decorate a pillow. Once the scarves were made, the project kind of got side-tracked. Are you noticing a pattern?

I ran across the scarves when I was trapped in the sewing room with the dogs a few weeks ago. I decided it was a really great idea and that I’d finish up that pillow. I have plenty of old drapes, so I hand-sewed the mini scarves to a piece of fabric and sewed on a matching back. Unfortunately, I was off on my measurements, so the pillow wasn’t fitting nicely. I used my machine to add a band of faux-suede to the bottom and hand-sewed it closed. It’s not quite how I imagined it, but maybe it’s just a wee bit better.

Leaf Scarf Trim Pillow 2

I love the texture of that crochet pattern. A new pillow or two can add so much brightness and light and just pull a space together. Laundry baskets on the dining room table on the other hand don’t do the trick as well.

More Spring Pillows

OK, so it’s morning, Baby Girl has vacated the couch, so here’s one last look at the my sweet little bird pillows.

Pillows 005

What are you sewing up? Adding any springtime whimsy to your home?

 

 

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Blossoms and Bluster

We’ve had wind and rain interspersed with glimpses of sunshine for the last few weeks, so I wasn’t sure the seeds we planted in the garden would have done anything.

I put out Sluggo last week and transplanted some broccoli seedlings, but nothing was going on in the beds. Thankfully another week made a big difference. The seeds are starting to come up and the onions and broccoli are settling in.

Broccoli 2

If you take a closer look, you can see the spinach and the beets just starting off.

Spinach & Beets

I was a little disappointed that I didn’t see any progress with the peas, carrots, or potatoes. We’re expecting some sunny and warm weather this week, so I’m hoping that’ll give them a boost. While I was checking on the peas, I did notice this lovely asparagus that I started last year. I know I’m supposed to wait, but it looks mighty tempting.

Asparagus 2

 

It was a pretty afternoon yesterday, until the dark clouds blew in. While I was checking on my garden, I couldn’t help but wander over to the orchard. The apple blossoms show fluffy and white against the sky.

Blossoms & Sky

They are certainly a promise of the harvest to come.

Beautiful Blossoms

Even now, the currants are heavy with fruit just waiting to ripen, the grape vines are starting to twine, and the blueberries are covered in blossoms.

Currants

Ah the joys of spring gladden my heart; they make me long to write poetry and watch clouds float by in a clear blue sky.

Is the world around you waking after the long winter? Are you in the poetic gardening mood?

 

Getting Comfortable

Pets–you gotta love ’em. Our dogs bring joy and laughter to our lives; they’re always up for a good run or a game of fetch. BUT–there’s always a but–these dogs drive me crazy.

Cocoa looks all sweet and innocent, snoozing on the chair, but that puppy likes to chew.

Cocoa

 

In order to keep our house from sustaining damage, the dogs have been relegated to the laundry room when we’re gone and at night. While fewer pillows have been chewed up, our clothes have taken a bit of a beating.

I wasn’t surprised to find chewed up socks and underwear, but Cocoa got bored with that and decided to redesign the MR jeans.

Jeans

Apparently, that Levi’s patch is overdone, and a few bite marks at the waistband are all the rage. In order to save our wardrobe, I came up with a plan. I would make dog beds and tie chew sticks to them. Our sweet little dogs would be so busy with their treats that they wouldn’t have time to bother with our clothes.

I had all the supplies, a few of the girls’ old comforters, some fabric that I bought for curtains that were never meant to be, and some rope for the trim.

Bogart approved whole-heartedly. He even deigned to test out the cushy-ness factor for me.

Bogart and blankets

I was excited since i had two rather undiscriminating clients, I figured I could try out some new techniques. I’d seen some cute napkins with mitered hems–very professional looking–so I decided to try it out on the dogs. What are they going to do if my corners are wonky? They’ve been known to eat garbage; I don’t think they’ll complain.

Well, it all went swimmingly. Celebrate Creativity has a super, simple tutorial (you can check out here). I just made my “napkins” more like dog-bed-size. When I had two finished “napkins”, I put them wrong-sides together, sewed around three sides (about an inch-and-a-half from the edge), and made some buttonholes on the fourth. Then it was just a matter of tacking the edges together every so often, running the cord through, and adding little chew treats.

So how did it turn out? I finished in the middle of the afternoon, stuck the new dog bed in the laundry room, started dinner, and realized I’d forgotten to take any photos. What was I thinking?

Torn up trim 2

I guess they enjoyed it. The chew element didn’t really work out, but at least they wound up with a cozy pair of beds to lie on. And if you run out other things to chew, there’s always the corner of your bed, the stuffing, or even your buddy’s ear–Cocoa has a problem.

Dog Beds

The dogs can usually be found sitting on their beds when I get ready to leave, so I think they like them even without treats.

One little tip in case you decide to make dog beds or napkins, I cut a piece of cardboard to one inch in width to use as a guide while I was ironing. I imagine it would also come in handy if you were making a dozen napkins.

Cardboard measure

 

And by the by, guess whose sewing machine repair shop just called? I’m thinking more projects are just around the corner.

What have you been making? How do you keep your dogs from chewing up the world?

(OK, so I’ve been messing with my theme for the blog (how it looks). After two years, it was time for something new, but the theme I used on Wednesday was just too hard to read. I hope you like the new one. It might be another two years before I get the courage to shake things up again.)

A Whole New Look

After dealing with noise, dust, yards and yards of plastic, and a whole lot of angst, the floors are done, and we love them.

The MR redid the hardwoods at the old house, and we dealt with a week’s worth of painters here, so I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I had no idea; sometimes I am very naive. We had tile in every room downstairs except the guest bedroom and the mechanical room. All four sets of french doors and three other outside doors open onto tile. We have a four-foot wide pathway around the whole main floor. Let’s just say we have a lot of tile.

And since we live out in the boonies, the workers from Seattle wanted to finish the job up quickly. While we were totally thrilled with that, the long days got really long.

Monday, they put down scratch-coat and then another product. They left our room and the landing to the stairs at just one coat, so we could have access after a few hours. That night, Baby Girl went to her room, and I climbed over the deck railing to get to mine. The MR was worried about Bogart, so they took the long way around together. We got up in the morning to smelly, very white and bumpy floors. The MR was looking for smooth, and we both had a big case of buyer’s remorse. What in the world were we doing?

Well, it only got worse. Next thing you know, everything was covered in plastic, and the workers are sanding away at the floors.

Great Room & Plastic

 

Little Buddy had no idea how to get from here to there, and to be honest I wasn’t doing much better. When the team finally started putting down color, I breathed a sigh of relief. This was all going to work out.

So here’s a little look at our kitchen before, during, and after.

Kitchen Collage

Let’s move on to the dining room with its huge expanse of tile.

Dining Room Floor Collage

It’s a big change from all the busyness of the tile with grout lines going in all directions. The pictures make the floors look so flat, but they really have a lot of movement and interesting detail. Here’s an up-close look, so you can get a better idea.

Detail Shot 2

 

We redid the floors in the entry, the dining room, kitchen, hallway, walkway, master bedroom, powder room, laundry room, pantry, and guest bathroom. Perhaps that’s why our whole world was in chaos.

Finished Floors Collage

I’ve been leery of putting down rugs and moving furniture back. I’m know I’m being overly-cautious–the MR did point out that they use this coating on driveways–it’s just an expensive process and I don’t want to mess it up.

Talking with Sweet Miss yesterday, I told her that I liked the floors, but I was worried about how others would feel about them. She asked if this wasn’t our retirement home, so why let it bother you? Baby Girl said the floors are modern and edgy; she’s never seen anything like them.

She’s right. They’re cool, easy to clean, warm, and interesting. We’re happy, and sometimes that’s all that matters. And I’ll never have to go through last week again. That’s a bonus, right Cocoa-Bean?

What is going on

By the way, this is my 300th post. Thank you to all the loyal followers who’ve stuck with me for the last few years, and thank you to everyone who just drops by now and then. I appreciate your support.

Any home renovations going on at your house? How would you deal with crazy mauve tile?

(Kenji and his crew from Home Tech Design did an awesome job. While you can stay at home during the work, I wouldn’t recommend it; it’s just a noisy, dusty, messy process.) 

 

 

It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask

A couple months ago, I was chatting with a fellow who works at the local hardware store about the weather as I was heading to my car. That’s when I decided that it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Do you carry peg board? I said innocently, although I’d already scoured the aisles of his store. He told me that they didn’t sell the board, but they did have the pegs. They’re not much good without the board, I quipped back. That’s when he told me to wait a minute, he could help me out.

Back inside, he showed up at the cash register with a large sheet of peg board. It was a little worse for wear, but for five bucks I’d take it. Oh, and while I was at it I picked up a few of those pegs, too.

I’ve been thinking it’s time to organize the sewing room. I can pretend that it’s always neat and tidy like when I made this big reveal.

Lots of storage, so I can attempt to stay organized.

But sometimes I get all creative and random and my supplies just seem to explode. I blamed it on all the plants we were trying to overwinter in there, but that’s just silly. They’ve been gone for months, and it’s still a jumbled mess.

messy craft room2

It was time to add something besides book art, and peg board seemed like a great idea.

Asking a simple question had been so effective before, I decided to try it again. So I asked the MR if we had a stud finder. Sure enough, we did, and he gave me a little lesson on how to use it. I figured this was definitely a two-man/woman job, so I was waiting for an afternoon when Baby Girl had some free time, but before I knew it, the MR had my peg board up on the wall centered between the windows. It was perfect–almost.

You see the MR didn’t realize the board was primed and painted on one side and just press board on the other. I figured it would be fine and started organizing. An old curtain rod would come in handy for holding reals of ribbon.

organizing2

But then every time I saw it, I wished the painted side was out. It seemed so silly to waste time on it, but it was just bugging me. So with some help from Baby Girl, we did a little switcheroo. In order to be able to use all the same holes to fasten it to the wall, we flipped the board vertically rather than horizontally.

old side

Unfortunately, the painted side looked a little old and yellowed. We have a ton of sample paints from when we were trying to decide on what color to paint the great room, so I figured that could be remedied really quick. One coat of Benjamin Moore’s Simply White had the peg board looking bright and fresh.

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Fresh white

I added some hooks, drilled holes in cups, hung them up, and thought wow it’s going be great. But it just wasn’t. Perhaps that’s why this post has been languishing for months, and I never quite got around to taking a picture of a bunch of ho-hum, white cups hanging on a peg board.

Then last week, we were invaded by the floor guys. What’s a body to do when it’s rainy and yucky outside and your stuck in the garage with two dogs? Retreat to the sewing room, crank up the space heater, and get busy.

My plan was to recover a few pillows for the couch and finish up some other projects, but my sewing machine conked out on me. With it back in the shop, I started organizing. I added a little decorative washi tape to the cups and trimmed out the peg board, added bows to buckets, and hung some party favor boxes from Target. Suddenly my little peg board looked oh-s0-fab.

New Decorated Peg Board

With projects in bags lining the edge, I have a visual reminder of what to do next. I covered the clipboard with some scrapbook paper using spray-mount adhesive. To finish off my not-so-perfect job, I added a little more of the washi tape. Now I have an actual list of ideas and things I want to do; I was surprised by the number of half-way done projects I unearthed in my organization efforts.

I said goodbye to the thick, wool rug that served as a magnet for pins, threads, and bits of fabric and took a hard look at the shelving unit. I have a lot of space that could be better used.

Shelving Unit

It needs a lot of work, but for now, I added some labels to boxes just to help me remember what I’ve got going on. Lately, I’ve picked up some really beautiful yarn without a definite project in mind. Taking a picture with my phone and displaying them on the ends of boxes helps me see my options.

labeled boxes

I have big plans for the sewing room. Graphic, black-and-white, peel-and-stick floor tiles might be just the thing for this space. A little paint, some curtains at the windows, and suddenly, my retreat could look quite lovely, vibrant, fun, funky, and creative. It’s getting there–don’t you worry.

Any organizing and beautifying going on at your house? What do you do when your trapped in a small space with two large-ish dogs?

 

 

Spring Clearing and Planting

Last weekend was one of those idyllic spring weekends. Birds sang, temperatures soared, and the sun shone brightly on the green grass.

Saturday, the MR was on call, so me and Baby Girl headed off in the wee hours for a volleyball tournament an hour-and-a-half down the road. In the evening, when we returned home, the MR proudly asked if I saw what he’d done. I looked out on the meadow, but to be honest whatever it was totally escaped me.

Cleared Tree 2

 

Did you mow? I queried. No–I was at a loss. Now years ago, the MR and Sweet Miss took me out to the backyard after a weekend away to show me what the MR had done. It took me 15 minutes to stop wandering around the vegetable garden and realize that the swing set next to it was totally gone. I’m not always that observant.

Thankfully, the MR didn’t make me play 20 questions. He’d taken out the tree on the drain field as the serviceman had recommended back in March. I’d suggested that the tree was made up of a dozen trunks; I was sadly mistaken. The MR figured he cut down around 30. Let’s take a closer look.

Close Up of Clearing from the Deck

We don’t have too many blackberries on the drain field, after all, but we have a few more trees on the edges that should be removed. After wielding a chainsaw for a few hours, the MR didn’t have the energy to cut up all the tree trunks and dispose of them (i.e., throw them down the hill). That will be a job for another day.

The next afternoon, I did make it down across the meadow to check it out.

Pile of debris

I won’t have to go to the gym next week; I can just toss logs into the forest for a few hours. Just to give you some perspective, here’s the house from that part of the meadow.

House from Tree Clearing 1

Who needs to seek out exercise when you can walk up and down that hill a few times? Walk up and down we did, as me and the MR planted the garden on Sunday afternoon.

I had big plans to clear all the counters inside in preparation for the floor work. I was sure I’d have time to plant the garden when I was trying to entertain the dogs over the next few days. Unfortunately, the workers needed to open the doors, and one of the fellows had a fear of dogs, so we’ve spent a lot of this week cooped up in the garage.

Besides, who want to clean house when you can be outside working on a beautiful sunny day? The MR had bought some topsoil earlier in the week and added that to the garden beds along with some nitrogen. We’re hoping for better luck this year; I don’t think it can be much worse.

We planted peas, lettuce, beets, carrots, and spinach in the raised beds. I was excited to find most of my garden marker stones from last year. I think they look quite festive like colorful Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the garden.

Garden Bed 2

Then to try and ward off evil critters, we planted a row of scallions around the bed in the ground. Maybe the rabbits and squirrels will decide this stinky garden is not for them.

Onion border

We’ve talked about adding more area to the garden terracing down the slope, but that’s still in the future. I’ve read that potatoes are good for breaking up sod, so the MR dug a few holes and planted some fingerlings just outside the fence.

Outside potato hills

When it warms up a bit, I’ll be planting some of the heat loving space hogs next to the potatoes. I love the idea of pumpkins and zucchini trailing down the slope. We still have plans for beans and tomatoes, and the MR brought home some broccoli starts last night.

For now, it’s a waiting game. At least I have the perfect vantage point from which to watch.

Garden from Deck 2

Have you planted your garden? Any yard maintenance going on?

 

Chaos Reigns

 My mom was a force to be reckoned with. I remember when I was in college, my folks decided to have their kitchen and bathroom cabinets refaced.

That meant clearing everything out of all the drawers and cupboards. Our dining room was filled to overflowing with pots ands pans, boxes of food, dishes and small appliances.

When Monday morning rolled around, and the workers called to say they had a scheduling issue and wouldn’t be able to come until next week, my mom blew a gasket. There was no way on earth that was going to happen.

Sure enough, they had a fellow out there that same morning. Apparently, that company didn’t know who they were dealing with. You simply didn’t say no to Donna Fisher.

After all these years, you may be wondering why that incident came to mind. Well, we’re not redoing cabinets, but we are redoing floors. (Remember the samples I showed you a few weeks back?) That means we’ve moved tables and chairs, desks and carts, benches and rugs, plants, toilets, sinks, and the washer and dryer.

Tile Cleared Collage

Everything seems so wide open and clear. Baby Girl came home from school last week, and said that our house looked empty. Yes…and no. 

When you clear all those spaces, all that stuff has to go somewhere. We moved all the furniture in the great room closer together, filled the guest room to overflowing, and hauled the rest out to the garage.

Crowded Collage 2

In other words, chaos reigns. And now my mom’s angst all those years ago makes so much more sense. At the time, I thought it was no big deal; we’d just have to live with the mess until the company could take care of the job. Now that it’s my home, I’m going a little crazy with everything jumbled together and out of place.

I’m not the only one who’s concerned about all the change.

 My Posse

Cocoa and Bogart haven’t a clue what’s going on, but they have been enjoying a lot of together time with me today. One of the workers (Kenji and his crew showed up right on time) is afraid of dogs, so we’ve been holed up in the sewing room together for most of the day.

The team is hoping to finish up our floors by the end of the week. We sure hope they’re right.

Any remodeling going on at your house? When things are out of place, do you get out of sorts?