Taking It Up a Notch

For years my craft organization has been hit-and-miss. I’d buy some shoes and notice that the box looked pretty cute and put it to use.

While that works fairly well, it’s not a perfect system. Boxes come in all different sizes; nothing matches; it can end up quite a jumble.

But the other day, I was doing a little “window shopping” on Joss & Main—dangerous, I know—and came across some lovely storage options. Artsy with a hit of color; I was smitten.

Maybe I’ll organize yarn in boxes in baskets. There are so many options.

I did hijack one for the French doors by the master bedroom. Sometimes Cocoa can’t be bothered to use the stairs and squeezes under the rails. This is her first stop, and it can take a bit of persuading to get her to the other doors.

When you have a dirty dog, a towel to wipe her off is so helpful.

Keeping dirt off the floors and looking chic—sounds like a win-win to me.

Any organizing tips you’d like to share?

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It Feels Like Fall

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are turning colors, and the nights are cool; it feels like fall.

Labor Day usually marks the beginning of the school year for kids around here. While back to school isn’t quite the same with the last one in college, I do enjoy all those sales the weekend boasts. With the internet, I don’t even have leave home to get some great deals.

To mark the change of seasons, I picked up this lovely pillow.

Tree Pillow

Me and the MR do love our trees. I saw some beautiful wreaths at HomeGoods last week. At $60 a piece, I may have to wait for another sale. That’s the beauty of life; it doesn’t all have to happen in a day.

Are you adding a little of the season to your home? 

Pillow Talk

So once upon a time, ages ago, I recovered some pillows for our outide seating area, and then I promised you a tutorial. I bought some fabric and was totally ready to do it. And then I didn’t. Sweet Miss graduated from college, a year came and went, and I fell down on the job.

So thank you for waiting, and here’s a basic pillow tutorial.

First measure the pillow you’d like to cover. If it’s a down pillow form, you can use that exact measurement, if it’s fiberfill, add an inch.

Now you have to ask yourself permanent or seasonal? Do I want to shake things up on a regular basis or is this something I want to see forever (or at least for a good bit)?

If you want to change it up often, buttons are your friend. Zippers can also be quite useful, but we’re going to focus on buttons for today.

The pillows I wanted to cover were 20 inches square. So I grabbed my fabric, gave it a quick iron and cut out a 21-inch square in the diamond material.

For the polka-dotted gray, I cut a 21 x 27-inch rectangle. I know that doesn’t add up at all. Hold your horses. Now, you need to decide what you want. Are the buttons going to be a design element? Do you want it totally symmetrical, or do you want a band off to the side?

I wanted the buttons off to the side but looking intentional so not too far off to the side. After thinking it through, I cut a 7-inch piece off of one length. These two pieces would make up the back.

In home dec projects, the iron is your friend. This isn’t rocket science. I eyeballed about an inch, folded it under and pressed. Then folded again and pressed. I did this on both pieces of fabric making sure to use the adjacent ends.

Let’s move on to the sewing machine. Simply stitch the folded sides down close to the turned edge. Add a couple buttonholes or as many as the number of buttons you’d like to use on the smaller piece of fabric.

Over lap and stitch the top and bottom edges together being certain that the buttonholes are on the outer side.

Now if you’ve been doing your math along the way, you may have noticed that I added and extra 6 inches, but only folded under 2 on each side. If 2+2=4, that means I have an extra 2 inches. Yes you do, but let’s say you’re really bad at guestimating an inch and folded under 1 1/2-inches on each side, you’d have exactly the right amount. Now, if you turned under 1 5/8-inches on each side, suddenly you’d be scurrying around without enough fabric. This way you have a fudge factor. And in my imprecise world, it has come in handy more than once.

We’re almost there. Just face right sides together, and sew around the edge. Sew on your buttons and get ready for a quick and easy update.

Whether I feel like winter or summer, I’m set.

I didn’t use pillow forms, I just recoverd some old green feather pillows that the pin feathers kept poking out of.  I bought the fabric when Hancock’s was going out of business, so it was quite reasonable. For around $20, I added a little style and color to our couch.

How you do you like to update your sofa? Any sewing tips to share?

 

Making My Own Sunshine

I’m not a trusting soul. When the weatherman last night promised sunshine, I took a wait and see attitude. The rains pelting the roof this morning were no surprise. 

Perhaps with only seven days without rain this year he was trying to throw us a bone. 


It is what it is. Eventually the sun will come out. Me and the MR spent the weekend apart, but we still had that couple’s intuition happening. He bought flowers for the outside, while Baby Girl and I chose flowers for the inside. 


I have a habit of buying vases and just leaving them sit there for days, weeks, months, years…. 

Now at least we have a bit of brightness in the great room. And while I love real flowers, these add cheer and won’t wilt. I do believe there’s room for both. 


I was telling the MR over dinner last night about how a rainy spring and moldy, hallucinogenic flour may have contributed to the medieval witch trials. It’s feeling like that kind of year. 

Don’t worry. I’m keeping an eye on the flour. 

How do you add a bit of sunshine to your world?

Me and BG purchased our flowers at Pier 1. If your interested in how chemistry changed the world, check out Napoleon’s Buttons by Jay Burreson. 

The History of a Fireplace Big, White House Style

I received a great email this weekend from my mother-in-law. It read:

This is our friend, the cocktail waitress in LV where you both and Baby Girl stayed one time with us, and she LOVES you blog and I thought you better than I could tell her where to best look for info on the fireplace.  I told her, but she wants pictures.  MK

 

PLEASE tell that WONDERFUL daughter in law there is a story about that fireplace. I bet it was not that nice until they improved it. Worthy of blog info.—-tell her I want to hear about IT    !!!!!!     FFQ

So this one is for MeeMee’s friend Linda. Honey, all you have to do is ask…

I was kind of surprised, because after a few years you get used to things. You forget how they were. They’ve always been this way, right? So for those of you who haven’t been with us from the beginning, we’re going to go back, back to the time when the Big White House on the Hill looked more like something out of Miami Vice, back when everything was white except for the carpet. I still can’t believe the MR talked me into moving here with the bugs, and the mice, in the middle of nowhere.

In those days, it wasn’t just a fireplace. It was a fireplace and conversation pit because everyone has to have one. A friend suggested we should turn it into a ball pit.  Our kids were 17 and 13, otherwise we might have seriously considered it.

Conversation pit or ball pit which would you prefer?

Conversation pit or ball pit which would you prefer?

It took me months to wrap my head around this space. We’ve had fireplaces in all our homes, and I’d always wanted a mantel, but now I had 10-feet of space to decorate. And with the three-foot drop, I needed a step stool to put anything on it. When you don’t know what to do—do nothing. That’s always been my MO.

A few books, a few flowers, a 2-foot-tall candle can all do wonders.

Fireplace

And while white on white was where we started, me and the MR where intent on adding color. The walls in Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige and Tony Taupe where a fairly simple choice, but what could we do with the fireplace? Would a little paint help hide the speakers and the dumb-waiter for the wood? Could we make this more of a focal point?

I did a little brainstorming in Let’s Talk Color and came up with this color scheme.

Fireplace

Adding some dark gray would help blend in the granite, and painting the stair step walls gray would set them off from the background taupe.

I was surprised to see how closely my color overlays matched the final outcome. The major difference was that we decided to have the mantel and the hearth painted in the darker color as well.

Fireplace plus background

Check out “The Big Reveal” for all the freshly painted pictures. While this picture looks green, it’s actually gray with greenish undertones.

Sadly, we still had the very uncomfortable conversation pit, but look at how beautiful the molding looks set off by the gray paint. It took another year-and-a-half for us to get Out of the Pit or at least to save enough money to fill in the pit, but we did it.

Pit Construction

Once the trusses where in and the subfloor was in, we had the carpet removed, weird orange underlay put down, and the whole thing covered with a faux-concrete flooring.

Orange floor at sunset

Yes, we have lived through a whole lot of crazy putting this house together.

floor

You can see how our fireplace changed from year-to-year.

Over the Years Fall Fireplace Collage

And now we where just waiting for new chairs to cozy up to the fireplace.

Fireplace seating

Sadly, chairs where not enough. It was looking a little sterile. We needed pillows, throws, and a rug. Can we add a little softness and color?

fireplace chairs with new throw 2

We’ve moved around the plants, and the mantel itself is in constant flux with the seasons, but it still looks very similar to Baby Girl’s rendering for one of her first college classes.

BGs Sketch

In the last year, I’ve swapped out the hexagon tables for a footstool. This made for a very cozy place for our feet while the fireplace was in constant use during the recent power outages.

It’s fun to look back and see all that we’ve done over the past five years. I’d forgotten about the old boiler failing to turn on and heat the house that first winter after installing the heat pump. I guess that was the year we were in Mexico and Sweet Miss texted that it was 40-degrees—inside. I did feel a little guilty that she came home to a cold house.

If this doesn’t fulfill your hankering for info on the fireplace, you can always go to the blog and search for fireplace or mantel in the search engine. You’ll get to see all the fun fall and Christmas mantels plus a few spring and Valentine’s ones. Maybe I should get busy with a new one for the coming holiday.

What’s on your mantel? Does it change with the seasons?

P.S. I am not perfect. I have been known to spell “mantel” mantle upon occasion—I know, I know, it’s an article of clothing not an architectural feature. I think I’ve got it down now.

P.P.S. Thanks Linda for subimitting your request. I’d never have found this great picture of the girls if you hadn’t had me looking for fireplace stories. Strangely enough, the post with this picture had nothing about fireplaces or mantels, but I sure do love my sweet girls.

The girls


 

 

 

 

The Big, The Bad, The Broken

We love the windows, we love the view they afford, and we love the light they let in. Let’s be honest, the windows are what makes this house so special.Great Room Closer

But they can be a bit of a headache. During the cool months, I love the extra heat they allow in, but during the summer, it’s another story. It can be 75-degrees outside and 85-degrees inside. The glare is so obnoxious, we’ve had to don hats upon occasion. That’s why we went the window film route. (You can check that out here and here.)

The films have been great. They really cut down on the heat absorption and glare, but… Isn’t there always a but? Window films can cause problems. While they’re not insured for fogging, they are for breakage, and lucky us we had two windows break. Last fall is when we noticed them, and we decided to wait until spring in case the cold weather caused any other problems.

I know I said spring, but this has been the headache that never seems to end. The film company had me contact the glass company. The glass company comes to measure, but didn’t bring a large enough ladder. Come on guys; you’ve been here before. Once the glass was measured properly, they tried to order it, but the glass company no longer made one of the larger sizes that we needed.

Sadly, we were out of town, and they didn’t want to order the glass until we’d signed off on another pane from a different manufacturer that was slightly different in hue. We scheduled a meet up in September, and then the glass had to be ordered and an install time scheduled. Can you see why this is lasting forever?

Meanwhile, the film company is pushing to have the films put on before installation. Last time we had the windows replaced, there was a problem, and one was broken. My question was who would pay for the film then. It ended up being a mute point in that the glass company felt the films could pose a safety threat to their men. The film company was all like I never heard of such a silly thing.

Anyways, last Tuesday the glass guys showed up with ladders, gloves, and two very large panes of glass.

glass-install

I don’t know about you, but three grown men on ladders, huffing and puffing, using colorful language, and carrying heavy things makes me nervous. Perhaps I should have been. They were able to take out the old broken window and break the new window as they were replacing it. At least the new one isn’t as cracked as the old one. To be fair, the windows are large, slightly off, the house is over 20 years old, things have shifted, and I’m totally glad they’re the ones doing it.

This being the smaller of the two windows they were replacing, I decided to go to knit group and let the MR hold down the fort. The second install went off without a hitch. Of course by the time the second window was removed, the sun had broken through the morning fog. It was a glorious day—just the kind of day that makes ladybugs swarm on a sunny, southern exposure with easy access to the indoors.

So in another two weeks, the new window should arrive, they’ll schedule an install time, I’ll call the film company, and schedule them, and maybe we’ll have it all taken care of by Christmas—if we’re lucky.

Meanwhile, I finished some rather lovely projects at knit group. The socks are for Sweet Miss. When your family travels to Italy for two weeks and you stay home because you’re a grown up, and have a job, and are responsible, you get a pair of hand-knit socks. The most complicated hand-knit socks I’ve ever made. The poncho/cowl/shawlette is mitered, garter stitch squares joined at an angle. I had some Noro that I knit up into tiny squares and hated, so I took it out and made something lovely in colors perfect for fall.

knitting-projects

Any projects household projects going on forever and ever? What are you knitting?

 

 

 

 

 

Problem Solving

Often, me and the MR can be found watching a show come evening after a bit of hanging out on the deck and some dinner. It’s nice to have a little time to unwind.

Unfortunately, I’ve watched the first half of dozens of movies and TV shows never to see the end. Snuggled up next to my guy on the couch, I conk out without fail. While it’s nice to be cozy, I do actually want to know what’s going in my favorite shows and to be able to tell you without reservation that the guy did get the girl, or that the good guys won, or the aliens have been vanquished. The MR’s recall of events tends to be limited.

So I’ve started knitting or crocheting. This keeps my hands occupied, my mind working, and my eyes open. We have lots of overhead lighting that sadly tends to bother the rest of the viewers. Back in February, I talked about Rethinking Light and perhaps repositioning some of the overhead lights. It’s been six months, and it’s still no closer to happening. We don’t have a ladder tall enough to reach the lights, and if we did, I wouldn’t want to climb it.

While the MR’s folks were visiting, I took to moving my chair under a spotlight of sorts, but who wants to move your furniture every night?

Spotlight

Besides, if left me feeling a little anit-social. I still want to be part of the group. Task lighting is a problem with all of our main seating area floating in the center of the room.

So, I went into problem-solver mode. This week, I spotted a floor lamp on Joss & Main for just $61.95 ($0 tax, and $0 shipping because I did a little more shopping). It seemed like a no-brainer. The area back by the fireplace has plug-ins, and still feels like part of the seating area. A floor lamp would actually help balance the plant on the other side of the arrangement. And if we truly hated it, Sweet Miss is in need of floor lamps; we can always ship it off to Oregon.

I was totally shocked when it arrived this morning. It was in a few pieces that simply screwed together in a matter of minutes. The light is totally positionable so I can direct it on all my projects. No more dropped stitches, no short rows, and no mistakes of any kind. OK, maybe I won’t go that far, but you get the gist.

It’s a bright sunny day with no need for lights of any kind, and I have plans with my guy after work tonight, so I’ll have to try out my new lamp sometime later this weekend. Don’t worry; I’ll give you the low down in the monthly recap.

I know; I’ve made you wait long enough. I think the new floor lamp is quite charming.

New Light

In some ways, it reminds me of the big dryer that they put over your head at the beauty salon—thankfully, only a little.

If you’re in the mood for new lighting, this is the Vanessa Floor Lamp from Joss & Main. We used to go to church with a lady named Vanessa who was quite fabulous. So far, her namesake is living up to the reputation.

Any creative prolem-solving going on at your home?