Monday, January 14, 2019

January is for Projects

I don't know about anyone else, but I was excited for the holidays to be over and for it to be January. I love January. The promise of snow seems more real (and yay! we got some yesterday), the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas and New Year's is past, and I can dive into projects while the kids head back to school.

I love cold, wintry weather. Hot tea, hot chocolate, baking sticky buns and bread...all these things bring me joy. I love taking a break from outside work and focusing on indoor projects instead. So here are a few of the most recent ones.

1. The basement...see the previous post for those details
2. Rugs!! It's been a long time since I've made any rugs, but I wanted to make some for in front of the washer and dryer once that area was painted. I wasn't feeling up to braiding rugs for that space, so I decided to try and crochet with thin strips of wool. I cut the strips about an inch wide, and just knotted them together when I got to the end of one and needed to add the next strip. I used a very large crochet hook, and it worked really well. They aren't fancy rugs, but they are colorful, very soft to walk on, quick to make and a great way to use up scrap fabric. I made a second one, but gave that to a friend as a gift. I finished both of these before the holidays.

While sorting through wool to use in the crocheted rugs, I came across the very beginning of a braided rug. You can see it hanging from a rug clamp in the picture above. I also organized and took stock of my wool fabric, and decided I did feel like braiding a rug after all! This one is now almost done. I'll finish the current round, taper it off and then complete the rug with one butted round.

3. Table runner. This last project was not made by me, but by my mother in law. She is an expert seamstress and quilter. I was given some vintage fabric the other year and thought this might be a good use for it. I'm quite happy with it.

Basement Update

For those of you on the edge of your seat, wondering how my basement painting progress is going...

This is definitely an all-year project. I have about half of the basement painted by now.

Today's portion, Before:


Before I paint, I scrape the walls to get any loose paint off, I vacuum it up with the shopvac and vacuum with a HEPA filter and then I wash the walls with a scrub brush and soapy water. It is a lot of prep work, but seems necessary on these old walls. This has one coat of white. I'll give it one more tomorrow and then paint the green pipe dark gray. (I follow the same routine for the floor, except I wash first, then scrape.) 

The laundry area, before


Toilet stall:

(Yes, I do want to hang artwork in our basement toilet stall...)

Remaining corner of the basement to be painted. So much 
cleaning out needs to happen before I can paint, and then I plan to really organize the basement.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Basement Walls

I love how paint transforms a space. Every room in our home is painted except for - you got it - the basement. It has been decades, I am guessing, since it’s seen fresh paint, so I am very excited to freshen up this space. Every time I am down there to exercise or do the laundry, I think about how grungy it looks. Now that the kids are in school, I have time to devote to it.

I have a long way to go until the basement is done, but I love, love, love the fresh clean look of the walls and pipes so far. It also hasn't been as terrible as I thought. I had to scrape some sections where old paint was peeling off, but I kept the shop vac handy and got rid of that dirt in no time. Then I took a scrub brush and washed down the walls with slightly soapy water in order to get rid of as much dirt as possible before painting. Let me tell you, this basement is dirty!

I plan to paint the basement using what I call the "Edie Method." This means I do this project in increments all the while continuing to mostly keep up with other work around the house. I remember my mom repainting the basement while I was younger, and she recently finished painting it again, fitting in her painting before or after her day job. If I really want to follow her example, however, I need to wake up early in the morning, paint for about an hour, and then get ready for my regular day. (Please ignore the clutter - that will be a whole other project.)






Third Floor Finale - Finally!

The room has been done (minus a final coat of paint for the railing and stair risers, but that may just wait for a few more years) for quite a while but I finally got around to taking some "after" pictures. I didn't do much cleaning up, so you can see some of my daughter's toys as well as the ever-growing piles of medical journals and publications on a shelf.

The kids really wanted this as a playroom, but we weren't willing to designate a whole room to toys and kids' items. My husband has a desk and computer in the room, we have a futon so it can be extra guest space and I've been placing small bookshelves around the room and slowly unpacking (3 years later!) the books we've had in boxes since moving here. It is a great room to escape to on a quiet afternoon for a nap or space for a child who wants some alone time.

Just as a reference point, here is the previous post showing some before and during pictures.



(FYI, I think this picture is a better representation of how the wall color looks )

The view at the top of the stairs:  Before


Roman Shades...I posted briefly about them here. They work, and they are even!
 I always hold my breath a bit when making two of something like this because they need to
 match and be the exact same length or they look sloppy. I have to tap into my almost 
non-existent type A self when sewing roman shades.

We have two dormers on the third floor, and while I could have made Roman shades for these, 
they face the west, are closed more often when upstairs, and so a simple drape is much 
easier to sew and use. I basically only had enough discipline to make two Roman shades.

Storage! We had two additional storage areas built into this room, and I'm glad we did. There was originally an area in the middle of the one side that had doors leading to storage and we knew we would want more. Plus, there was room under the eaves. The basement is too damp to really be a good storage space for certain things, so these spaces serve as our attic. You can see some of the other doors in a few of the pictures above. On one side there are 4 doors - those are all storage areas. On the facing wall there is just one door, and that is where the air-handler for our AC unit is.

Friday, September 7, 2018

People I Love

Most days being a mother to young children wears me out. Two things help me remember how much I love these young people in my life: watching them sleep and looking at pictures of them. Oh, how I love them!


It is pouring outside as I write this. Everyone else in the house is asleep, so I am savoring the sound of the rain, even though I know there are places not too far away who are weary of all the rain (and flooding) they've been getting recently.

I've been taking care of some non-human critters these past few months, and so far, have kept them alive. Want to see what I mean?

First up are the red wrigglers. For years we talked about getting some worms to compost our produce scraps. Finally, late last winter (I think?), we bought 1000 of them and got started. They eat any bits of produce that we don't eat. Think peels, skins, etc. They don't compost meat or dairy, unless we want it to stink. But they happily consume, and turn into compost, our produce scraps. Can you see them? The little pinkish bits in there?

I think we are now on our 3rd batch of compost (maybe 4th?). The worms are still alive and working hard, so I feel pretty proud of myself for maintaining this. Growing up, we just threw all our food compost into the garden that was far from the house. But living in a city - where rats are not too far away - exposed compost is not a good idea. So this is what we do instead. Why throw this into the trash where it will do no good, when we can have it enrich our soil instead? Such things make me feel like I am doing something right in the world.

When researching composting bins I read and watched videos about how to make your own, but in the end decided to go with a bin made for composting. It's been worth it. We had planned to keep the bin in the basement, but it looks nice enough that we've kept it in the kitchen - which is much more practical anyway. It is designed so we can add numerous levels, we can easily drain "worm pee" if it builds up and the pieces are easy to empty and clean when it is time to use the compost and start a new composting area.

I add shredded paper as dry matter to compost and absorb liquid.

Some nice looking compost. This is compost from coconut coir (it came with the bin), shredded paper and produce scraps. It was really wet so I added more paper while the worms were finishing their composting work. I no longer added fresh produce scraps to this one, but started a new section and gradually the worms migrate to the new food source once they have composted the food here.

Bottom drainage area. I clean it out every so often and put worms back in the food composting area.

Handy dandy paper shredder. Not only do we shred documents with information that we don't feel comfortable putting in our recycling, now they become part of the compost.

The drain at the bottom can be closed or open. Here I have it open and this small bowl is collecting the worm pee.

The composter's  place in our kitchen. More than one person has thought it's a stool and been surprised when we lift the lid and they see a wriggling mass of worms.