Well, I (Kristin) broke out my sewing machine for the first time since quilting four (yes, FOUR) blankets for my bridesmaids as thank-you-for-putting-up-with-me gifts in 2007. I started sewing pillows for our picture window in the living room.
Usually, our picture window is covered in miscellaneous dog beds, like the one seen here:
(Awe, remember when Kasen was that little?) But neither the window (nor the baby) will look like that again! I’m going to make custom-sized cushions for Gigi to sit/sleep on in the window. That should keep it looking neater.
I’ll be using fabric that used to be in our bedroom as window treatments:
The colors (green and gold) really complement the colors in the living room so we thought that would be a good use for the fabric. We will have enough leftover fabric – unless I screw up the cushions – to make some pillows too.
My plan was to buy some cushion foam from JoAnn fabrics, wrap it with the fabric from the window treatments, and add a rope detail along the edges.
My first step was to cut the foam.
I think the sales rep at JoAnn fabrics used a saws-all, but (1) we don’t have one and (2) Krister was convinced that it would not work. So, I tried cutting it with a hand saw. That left me with a really rough/not-straight edge:
So, I scoured the internet for alternatives and quickly discovered that an electric knife would work. Fortunately, we have one so I could it try out. (Thanks Angelo & Cathy!) It worked marvelously:
The window has a few different angles/edges, but I managed to cut it to size. I ran into a few small issues along the way though. First, the foam I bought it too tall and hits the knob where we open the window (we have no solution to this issue besides hope that it works well enough). Second, the foam is too small to go all the way across the window, so we’re going to make two cushions.
By the time the foam was cut, it looked like this:
Look at my pretty painted toes – no, I’m not referring to the pink toenail polish, but Benjamin Moore’s White Chocolate that dripped on my foot when I was painting something in the bedroom.
So, all that’s left is the covering. That was interesting…. my sewing skills are not great in the first place, and it has been half-a-decade since I last used my sewing machine.
First, I cut one piece of fabric to the size of the foam plus 1 inch on all sides. I just placed my foam on the fabric and outlined it with white chalk. I cut it with a rolling knife (love that thing – I relied on it a lot when I was quilting regularly). Then, I pinned the rope to the fabric (to the same side of the fabric that I want to see when the cover is complete). I pinned the whole thing inside-out, while it was on the foam, so I could be sure I was sewing it to the right size.
You can really see how beautiful the fabric is in that picture. Next, I sewed the fabric to the roping. The roping has about an inch of ribbon that you sew to the cushion on the inside, leaving the rope on the outside. The trick with the rope is that you basically sandwich the ribbon between the top and bottom pieces of cushion fabric.
This is how the partially-finished cushion looks loosely draped on top of the foam:
You can see some of the ribbon where I hadn’t sewed the rope yet (because I added a zipper there) on the far right side of the cushion.
I thought the rest of this project was conceptually pretty difficult. My primary problem with the sewing is that the cushion really has corners and I have NO idea how I’m supposed to sew the corners. I also added a zipper on the left side so that we could remove the fabric if Kasen or Gigi made a mess of it (although the fabric is dry-clean only, so I hope they don’t). The zipper was tricky too since I’d never done a zipper before. I basically just winged it. I put the partially-completed cover on the cushion inside out and pinned it (tightly). I shimmied the fabric off, carefully so I didn’t prick myself or lose any pins. Then I sewed the fabric together and hoped it would fit.
Good news, it fit! Here’s how (half of) the final product looked in the window:
It’s far from perfect, but it doesn’t look half bad. And Gigi approves:
I’m going to hold off on putting the second cushion together until the new year, since we have too many holidays to manage between now and then, but we’re happy (enough) with how the first one looks, especially given how hard it was to make!
Krister did our annual leaf clean up over the weekend. We had a lot of leaves. Here’s a picture we snapped in the middle of the cleanup – bet you can guess what part was finished!
And, of course, we couldn’t help but take a few pics of the babies in the leaf pile. Neither of them liked it.
Gigi escaped as fast as possible:
We were surprised that they were both so unhappy, since they enjoyed playing in the leaves at the park the day before:
(Gigi was too busy chasing squirrels to pose for a photograph.)
Anyway, we are now relatively leaf-free. We might have to do another clean-up before the season is over, but most of the clean-up is behind us.
In fact, we dug dirt all weekend. Anything in the name of patio progress.
You may recall that we removed The Ugly Shrub and loads of pachysandra from the future patio area. However, that was just the first step, especially since we are building into a hill. We are expecting the next step to actually be the most difficult of all – removing all the dirt so we can have a flat/level patio area.
Kristin’s first response: “Let’s get an estimate on having someone else do this part becuase it’s going to suck.” That estimate? $5,000 to dig and remove the dirt. YIKES. In fact, it would cost at least $1,000 to have someone haul our dirt away if it were in a neat pile somewhere convenient for pickup.
As you can imagine, we have a lot of dirt to get rid of, so we spent the last few weeks thinking about where to put all the dirt. In fact, we had an enormous pile after this much digging (sorry, no photo of the huge pile of dirt):
We wanted to put the dirt way back in the woods, but there are two problems. First, the dirt will probably just wash right back down the hill and onto the new patio. Second, we cannot reasonably get the wheelbarrow up the hill because it’s too steep. (We thought about carrying buckets up, but that would’ve taken forever and been way too tiring.)
We evaluated a few other options, such as building an elevated bed next to the garage, but none of them seems truly feasible. Finally, Krister came up with a great idea. We’ll build up the hill on the side of the patio and build up the existing wall (and probably push it back some too for a bigger patio area). Krister put up a temporary retaining wall, which will move once we put in the wall, so it looks like this:
We actually scored the pots from the existing retaining wall, which we will be replacing with a nice stone wall.
Then we spent the whole day on Sunday digging and moving the dirt. Nothing too thrilling, just sheer exhaustion. By the time all was said and done Sunday night, the future patio looks like this:
And our dirt pile looked like this:
Kristin had the biggest surprise of the day whil she was digging – a huge piece of marble!
We are hoping to use it for a side table or something. Hopefully we’ll find another so we can have a matching set!
We’ll keep you posted as the patio progresses, but for now, we just need to keep digging.
By the way, a little-known fact about Gigi – her favorite song is “Diggin’ Up Bones” by Randy Travis. Kristin sang it to her a few times while they were all working on the patio.
We had an incredibly productive weekend, thanks to glorious weather and an absence of events! As a result, we scratched a lot off our to-do list:
Phew! Here are the details on a few of the projects…
Our list of things that aren’t cool includes our driveway randomly caving in to reveal a massive hole. To give yu an idea on size, the orange blip in the hole is a pair of scissors. The hole is already partially filled with stone when this picture was taken.
First we filled the hole with stone – the cheapest stone that HD sells.
Then Krister topped it off with some concrete.
Once the concrete is dry enough, Krister will add an asphalt patch to match the rest of the driveway.
We tackled a bunch of projects in the yard this weekend.
First, the lawn. Krister has been filling in our rock-filled, moss-growing”soil” with a rich top soil and planting grass seed. He started with a tree in the front, but over the weekend he distributed dirt and see to several other sections of our lawn. The grass is actually starting to grow under the tree.
Here’s a picture of the tree after the dirt and seed were applied but before any growth.
…and now the grass is sprouting!
Meanwhile, Kristin was planting some annuals and perennials in the gardens around the front yard. Just filling in a few holes with some nice cut flowers – peonies and roses! Here is a picture of some of the annuals and a couple buds on the peonies.
Krister also tied up the bamboo that fell during the heavy snows this winter. The bamboo is HUGE! Krister looks tiny compared to the brush in this photo:
You all know that we’ve been working on the patio project. During her last week of maternity leave, Kristin was able to clear off the patio (with the help of Prudence!) and cut down all of the ugly shrub except the stump. Over the weekend, we were even able to get the ugly shrub ‘s stump out of our way!
Broad Street Run
Kristin and Uncle Dan ran the Broad Street Run, a 10-mile jog through Philadelphia. We had a great time and beautiful weather!
Overall, it was a very busy weekend! We got a lot done. Now we BOTH head off to work tomorrow and Kasen will be at day care for the first time…
Well, I’m heading back to work soon – only two weeks left of maternity leave! I am honestly looking forward to my return to work… I need to interact with more adults. I will be heading back on a 60% schedule, which means I’ll still have plenty of time to spend with our little guy. [I’m taking this opportunity to insert a cute picture of Kasen with Gigi here.]
Still, for the last two weeks (last week and next week), I’m trying to make the most of Kasen’s naps so I’ve been trying to get started on our patio project. The patio project is a key part in stopping the river running through our porch because we need to redirect water flowing down the hill behind our house. The plan is to put in some version of a french drain that allows the water to flow around the porch.
We also have a plan to make the patio larger & more functional. Specifically, we’re going to pull out the shrub (in the middle of the picture below) and the grass and extend the patio out to the greenhouse (n the back right of the picture below).
Before we can get to that, I’ve been clearing out all of the dirt off the existing patio, which came down the hill with the rain water this year. There is a lot of it. A Whole Lot. More than I can clear out in a week (courtesy of Kasen’s new all-too-short napping schedule, thanks to the pediatrician’s recommendation to wean Kasen off his pacifier).
Gigi has been helping by watching for squirrels.
I hope to get rid of the shrub before returning to work, but I’m not optimistic. We will keep you posted on our progress as the summer progresses…
If you’ve been to our house since September, you may have noticed that the yellow paint in our living room randomly stopped above the door to the kitchen. Not any more! (It was only slightly more obvious in person than it is in this picture, so don’t worry if you missed it.)
We painted the hallway and stairway to match the living room. Here is a before/after:
All of the light switches were mismatched too, so Kristin tried her hand at electrical work and replaced them all. Good news: she didn’t electocute herself nor burn down the house! Here’s a fun photo sequence of the switches (and outlet):
Kristin was surprised by how easy it was to change out the switches. Just don’t forget to disconnect the power!
Of course, Gigi helped by keeping an eye on Kasen. She’s a great babysitter.
We had a mini-snow storm this morning and I got out with our camera to snap a few photos of the snowy yard. Everything was very picturesque, but Kasen refused to cooperate. I felt too bad to force Gigi to pose in the snow (it’s too cold to be outside with only fur protecting your feet), so I didn’t catch any photos of her.
You can see why I decided to focus on photographing the yard. Got a couple of good pics of the front yard:
Happy Friday everyone!
Well, lately we’ve all been feeling a chill in the air. Nothing like changing seasons to inspire us to take photos of our changing landscape. This is especially true since it’s the first fall and winter we’ve lived in our new house, so every new season brings a new view that we just can’t wait to share with you.
Remember back when the leaves were changing colors and starting to fall from the trees? We do. Krister also has still-fresh memories of blowing those millions of leaves off of our roof and lawn for town pickup. Before the town came to collect our leaves, we took a few photographs of the scenery.
This photo is from the top of our driveway looking towards the street:
And from the end of our driveway looking towards the spring (and neighbor’s house). That’s right, Kristin got a little festive, despite being 8 months pregnant, and put out a pumpkin.
And no slideshow of the fall is complete without a photo of Gigi on high alert. Autumn is definitely Gigi’s favorite season: the squirrels are out, the breeze carries fresh smells, and leaves are perfect for, well, spreading her scent.
In May, Kristin promised Krister she wouldn’t decorate for Christmas this year. After all, the baby is due on December 20th, and decorating would be too much effort. Krister knew immediately that Kristin would never keep this promise and that taking the decorations down would fall entirely on him with a newborn around.
You can barely see (if you know what you’re looking for) two small Christmas trees in the background covered in multi-colored LED lights. We both agree that a well-decorated yard needs to balance white and multi-colored lights. We also agree that the multi-colored LED lights are awesome. The color is much more vivid than in the lights you probably used growing up. We are still reserving judgment on the white LED lights — the color is more blue (and resembles ice and snow more than the traditional yellow-white lights), but the blue glow of the LED does not match well with the yellow-white of the pre-lit garland on our lamp post.
We also decorated our kitchen table with our Spode dishware (thank you to Ken & Priscilla!), two hand-painted wine glasses (thank you Cathy & Angelo!), and a few branches we snipped off our Christmas tree to help it fit our tree stand a little better.
Naturally, we also had to get a Christmas tree. We agreed that, despite Kristin’s failure to keep to her no-decorating promise, we should only put up minimal decorations. That is really only apparent in the tiny little Chrsitmas tree we got. Even in the stand, it only stands about 4 feet tall. Still, it easily holds all of our ornaments and was priced to sell from Home Depot. We also picked up a new tree skirt at HD, since our old one was not holding up. The only problem with the new one is that the adorable snowman at the bottom resembles a dog toy. The dogs may attack our new tree skirt before the end of the season.
And the last decorations are in the basement along our fireplace. Krister and Gigi got new stockings this year. You’ll notice an extra stocking hook next to Gigi’s on the right – that’s where our baby-to-be will hang his stocking!
Big thank you to Prudence for helping us set up our Christmas decorations this year. You were a huge help!
Our new neighborhood is great. The people who live near us – friendly, honest, and social. Although we admit that these photos are a little old (there are still leaves on the trees), we wanted to share a few pictures of some of our favorite new neighbors with you.
These two we see most mornings either on our way to work or at breakfast. They have a huge family (at least three little babies) and are completely in love with our backyard:
This little guy doesn’t come by very often, but when he does, he eats all of our food. But, we don’t mind sharing:
Gigi is particularly fond of our neighbors. She has a funny way of showing it though — barking and carrying on…
This was a big weekend for us. We welcomed some new furniture into our home and finished our first project (albeit a small one).
First, the stuff you care about: our new couches! We bought two new couches and a new rug for our living room, which were delivered last week. Of course, we’re long from finished decorating (we haven’t even pulled down all of that green molding….) but it’s starting to look like a lived-in space.
The couch on the left is a twin-sleeper. We wanted plenty of space for all of our visitors, and this is one more sleeping spot in case the guest rooms fill up. The right couch is a regular sofa, covered in a plush microfiber (Gigi loves how soft it is). You can see that the rug is a bit larger than the couches, because we’re going to be adding an end table on the far right. You’ll notice the terra cotta orange in the rug – it picks up on the “sienna clay” (orange) we painted in our kitchen. We have an ottoman on order, which we can’t wait to see in our space. Next step: get an electrician in to install overhead lighting!
Organizing furniture wasn’t the only project this weekend. We emptied more boxes and worked on the kitchen moldings (turns out that crown molding is difficult to install when your walls aren’t perfectly straight….). In case you’ve forgotten what the kitchen/dining area looked like, here’s a reminder:
We’re hoping to have the electrician install a chandelier in the middle of the dining area to make the dining room feel more cozy and separate from the kithcen. Kristin’s Grammie & Grampa will be handing down their dining table (THANK YOU!!!), but we will need to hunt down some fabulous chairs (to match our fabulous table and fabulous kitchen, of course). But for the time being, the focus of the kitchen is moldings, moldings, moldings!
The next photo is a preview of our changes in the dining room – this is the same door that you see towards the back of the kitchen/dining area in the above picture. But with new paint and new moldings!
Oh, and we FINISHED OUR FIRST PROJECT!!! That’s right, after three weeks, we actually finished the bathroom closet. You may recall that over the last few weeks, we ripped out the shelves, spackled and sanded (and spackled and sanded), and painted the closet. This weekend, Krister installed the new shelves (and Kristin filled them up with stuff!). Here’s a picture of the new closet:
The hallway closet is almost finished (just needs shelves installed), but we ran out of shelving before that closet was completed. By this time next week, hopefully you’ll see a photo of another closet! (Exciting to us, even if it’s kind of boring to you….)
Other projects on tap for next weekend? Mostly moldings. Removing the green moldings from the living room and installing more moldings in the kitchen. Maybe we’ll even start to consider living room paint colors…. although for the living room, we’re going to try and keep it relatively neutral (no competing oranges on the first floor).