Primroses keep getting cheaper

February 28, 2008

And I just can’t resist planting them on the rock wall, so help me.


All Busy

February 25, 2008

One coat of paint in, the room is looking awesome. We had a major paint chip powwow on Sunday, comparing a 2”x1” sample of carpet to 3”x1”paint samples and trying to extrapolate that to an entire room. Rather absurd. We managed to narrow down to three options that we liked for both the carpet and couch interactions, and then used the fireplace brick as the final color determinant. The winner was something called Sand Fossil, and the trim, chosen in the waning afternoon light, was Creamy White. After a round of edging and a round with the roller, I’m pretty impressed. Not only is it a lovely color, but we decided in under 30 min, without antagonism (it’s a very pleasant surprise to me how acrimonious all of the house decisions have been. We don’t have the same color or style taste at all, and yet we keep ending up with easy, wonderful decisions. Either we’ve landed on a perfect stylistic vibe, or Kevin has been graciously and enthusiastically giving in to all of my whims. Not sure, and I’m certainly not challenging it, but I’m enjoying the non-battles.)

This picture is more evocative of my love for Kevin than my love for painting (especially edging!!), but at least he captured the moment.

I was listening to the Oscars and he shortly after started mixing Grasshoppers, so at least the amusement factor was high.

It’s so daunting to post pictures of paint color, since it’s such a personal aesthetic. We were going for classy, and at the very least, coordinated, and I think we’re awfully close if not there, but I’m envisioning a massive blog-world shying away especially after the light and bright white nothing from the last post. I probably would have been just as happy leaving the room primer-white (I say Fresh/Clean/Bright, Kevin says Sanatorium and runs for the hills – he’s probably right, but I love those blank, empty walls), but I think this color was a great choice. It’s a little bit more mustard than I expected, but in the evening under the lights it looks green, which I love. And I just can’t wait to see it with the trim and the carpet. The two motivating factors for this room were something dark & dramatic enough to make the trim pop, and something bright enough to capture every glimmer of sunlight. And that was tempered by having something that would accentuate the couch color and wouldn’t make us cringe relative to the orangey fireplace brick. A tall order. And yet, the fireplace looks so much more lovely, I like the color on the walls, and I can’t wait for the trim.


Quilt non-progress

I have totally stalled on the daybed quilt. I cut the fabric for the edging, and then for the trim, and then I completely stopped working on it. I think that the problem is that once I sew those few more seams, I have to deal with batting, which is completely baffling. What kind? What weight? How do you actually prep it for quilting?? The blogosphere rose to my aid this week, though, with a batting guide and a tutorial of how to baste a quilt. Perfect! Expect progress sometime soon, once I’ve digested the new information.

While I was waiting for guidance/inspiration on the quilting front, I finally decided to empty out and organize my knitting basket. (It was one of the only things that survived the pre-moving purge – I just stuck the whole thing into the car and didn’t even examine the contents.) I knew there wasn’t THAT much in it, but I couldn’t remember all of the pieces and it was certainly starting to *look* full (overflowing, in fact). After I dumped it all out on the floor:

There were lots of odd balls of yarn which have been untangled and relocated to my stash, some swatches and failed felting experiments which have been relocated to the trash, and these projects (all within a few minutes to hours of being complete):

  • Conwy Socks, two inches in, that need to be ripped and restarted, since they’re too tight.

  • A present for a friend that needs to be seemed and finished.

  • Isabella. Abandoned about a year ago, due to the wedding. What’s left? 20 rows on the right shoulder, block, sew sides and picot trim, knit picot trim at arms.

  • Twist Front Top by Adrienne Vittadini. Abandoned August ’06 in favour of a baby sweater using the same lace pattern. What’s left? About 30 rows of front for R, L shoulders, blocking, seaming.

  • Entrelac hand warmers of my own design. Abandoned Fall ’06. What’s left? Seams and perhaps a bit of decorative trim.

  • Freehand hooded vest. Abandoned last Spring. What’s left? 3 rows of the back, two front panels, hood. May rip out and restart?

  • Cable Cardigan (#14 from the Fall ’05 Vogue Knitting). Abandoned Fall ’05, due to many problems: my modifications didn’t work, the yarn was knit at too tight a gauge and the fabric is stiff, the neck doesn’t work, etc. It’s great yarn, but I think it would be terribly itchy to wear. And there’s mohair in it, so it doesn’t frog gracefully. I think I may just toss it and chalk it up in the “experience” category, especially since two+ years later I still can’t think of any remedies for it.


Some thoughts on room orgainization

February 24, 2008

Kevin has a Better Homes and Gardens software suite that we’ve been using pretty continuously to map out our house. I’m such a fan. One of the best features (if not the most useable, I may still revert to graph paper) is a furniture placement option. Our family room has to be one of the most awkward spaces I’ve ever seen, but it’s big enough that it gives us some flexibility. (You can tell that the previous owners felt the same way – the room was such a hodge podge of couches, a tv, a treadmill, a child’s computer and kitchen and play room...) We have nice big furniture to fill the room, so now it’s just a question of placement. Ideally, the couch and chair face not only the tv, but don’t block the fireplace. It’s such a weird, big room -- I think the only way we can really make it accessible and welcoming is by setting up zones...

But, the starting point is just where to put the couches.

Option 1:

Option 2:

Any other ideas??

The TV needs to go along the bottom wall, since that’s where the jacks are. (I laughed. Kevin’s been angling for a bigger TV for ages – long before we found this house – and I’ve been resisting, as usual. A combination of cheapness (thrift?) and general opposition to buying TVs. But the to-scale diagram of the room with the to-scale tv makes it look like a 12”. We still won’t be buying a TV tomorrow, but I was amused enough to call him in and concede the point. Our 3-ft wide TV is puny compared to the room.)

We’re thinking we’ll also do a reading corner in the upper-right corner by those windows, or perhaps a puzzle table. It looks teeny compared to the room but it’s a 5½ x 7½ foot space, so it’s not that small.



February 23, 2008

I woke up early this morning (7:23) and didn’t fall back to sleep. Very unusual, but I decided to get up and just get working on the room in the morning light. Two times around all of the edges with the brush, and a second coat all around with the roller, and now the priming is done in the family room! Yay!

Even the edges are all crisp and white instead of drywall color or bleeding-though blue!

The room is 24½’x17’, with 6 windows, two sets of double doors, a bump-out, an extra-tall brick fireplace, and a cathedral ceiling, so I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be done with ALL of that edging.

Of course, the priming isn’t entirely done. After all of the work of mounting the second layer of drywall and carefully cutting out holes for the thermostat and the ugly, ancient electrical heater, Kevin thought about it all a little bit more and proposed removing the heater entirely. Yay! I loved the idea. It’s on the same circuit as way too many other things, and the obvious amateur wiring has always made us skittish. Too bad we didn’t think of taking it out before Kevin made all the cuts, though. :-( So he’s patched the wall, and there are still another two coats of joint compound before it’s ready for texture and then primer. Still, that’s one little rectangle that can be taken care of in 3 seconds with a roller. We’re getting there!

The priming took all morning, and then I spent the afternoon doing errands, including trips to both Home Depot (for paint samples) and Lowes (for the carpet sample). The light was too low to make accurate color decisions by the time I got back, so that will be the first thing on the docket for tomorrow. Then back to Lowes to return the carpet sample, and back to Home Depot to actually buy the paint.

While I was gone, Kevin completed the hardware store trifecta by heading over to Ace Hardware to look for insulating foam (they didn’t have it). Our new fire door for the garage/laundry room finally came in earlier in the week. We were planning to replace it anyway, due to the ugliness of the old one, and then our timing got accelerated a bit when the ironing board accidently fell from next to the washing machine while Kevin’s family was here. The ironing board effectively jammed the door to the house closed, and so Kevin and his dad had to break in from the garage through the deadbolt, since we don’t have a key to that lock. The new door, then, is an exciting addition. Kevin broke out his favourite home improvement tools (the crowbar and the big rubber mallet) to remove the old door and frame, and was amused when he removed the trim to find this:

See the empty gaps all the way around the door? No wonder it’s been so cold in that room!! Usually you put insulation around the door, but they’d only put trim (which wasn’t even sealed or caulked). And no wonder all of the weather proofing attempts for the bottom of the door didn’t seem to have any effect! :-)


More Spring Updates

February 22, 2008

Our primroses on the kitchen counter continue to look so cheerful. They now have company in the blue pots on either side. Amanda and Brian left three quarters of a thing of garlic on the counter a month and a half ago. It's been sprouting, and I finally planted it last week. It’s VERY pleased to be in a pot. The shoots are all about three inches tall, and they seem to grow more every time I walk into the kitchen.

I’ve been checking on the crocuses each morning and most evenings to see if they’ve bloomed – it’s always such an all of a sudden thing with them. I can’t wait to see what color they turn out to be. That surprise seems a little bit ruined since there’s lavender, yellow, and purple crocus petal debris all around the bulbs. None of the remaining ones seem damaged, but I’ll have to be extra vigilant if I want to see them flower, I guess. I wonder which creature decided to attack?

The hydrangeas in the front yard were severely cut back during the pruning when Kevin’s family was here. I’ve been worried about them since it really does seem like a lot to recover from. I checked today, though, and it seems my fears were groundless since there are green buds everywhere. Yay!

There are two unidentified bushes in the backyard with very neat buds. Any ideas what this is?

Or this?

While we’re playing “name that plant”, the entire corner of front yard erupted in what looks like two sorts of bulb.

Here are the closeups (click on them for even bigger) – any ideas?

And finally, the holly tree is still, incongruously, covered in berries and looking very Christmassy. Right in front of it, though, is a bush positively covered in buds. I was puzzling over it when I finally found one that had actually bloomed! I know this flower!!

We have a forsythia!

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February 17, 2008

BIG woodpile:

Little woodpiles:

And nary a chipper in sight! The first picture is from my parents’ visit (Mom thought I needed a picture with me for scale, since it really was an impressively huge thing). Two yard waste collections later, the difference is rather magical. (Really. Cut the sticks and branches small enough, and it defies logic how much you can fit in those bins. It all starts feeling very Higitus Figitus -- reminds me of the Merlin packing away his books in "The Sword in the Stone".) And I spent this afternoon with the handsaw, making sure that all of the remaining sticks and logs are small enough to fit in the bits without further trimming! I’m feeling very accomplished.


A little jolt of color

February 16, 2008

This week’s batch of tulips sitting on the kitchen table looked totally spectacular as they caught the last of the morning sunlight.

I love that as all of the other flowers skyrocket in price on Valentines Day, tulips are still two bunches of five for $6. The long, cheap tulip season has to be one of my favourite things about the Pacific Northwest.


Well worth the money

February 15, 2008

When we bought the house, we knew that we’d be updating some of the windows at some point. The windows in the bedrooms and master bath are new and gorgeous. No complaints. The windows in the living and dining room are completely attractive, if not heat-retentive. But the windows in the fish room and the family room were old, ugly, leaky and failing. When we were decorating the family room for Christmas, we realized that two of the big windows were actually leaking large amounts of condensation (more than a spongeful, whenever I checked) and so windows suddenly zoomed up the priority list, replacing the attic and crawl space insulation. Out with the 70’s and 80’s brown aluminum crumminess, in with the 2008 vinyl happiness! We still need to repaint and replace the trim in the family room (tbd as soon as we finally choose a paint color). The walls are nearly prepped – I did a coat of primer on the entire room while listening to Super Tuesday results on the radio – and we need to get things painted before the new carpet gets installed on the 27th-ish (our appointment hasn’t been confirmed yet).

So, in the fish room, before:

And after:

(more after: isn’t this window the prettiest ever? I’m delighted. And the old one didn’t open – this will give us a breeze in the summer!)

(Like the moss on our tree? Go, Pacific Northwest! And when that hydrangea blooms?? Wow. Not to mention when we paint the walls. Or break down the quarantine tank and get those buckets and electrical cords out of there! Then it will *really* be classy!)

There are six windows in the family room. The far corner, before:

And after:

The patio corner before:

And after:

The top windows before:

And a long shot from the far side of the room, after:

Aren’t they neat! We’re already impressed at the difference in warmth, and every time I walk into the kitchen area, the fish room window just looks so clean and impressive to me. :-) Gorgeous.


Too fun

February 14, 2008

The other day it got sunny in the late afternoon (a rarity) and without our dense layer of clouds it didn’t get too dark to work outside until about 5:30! Huge progress! I’m still chipping away at the enormous branch pile, so I’ve been outside more days than not in the last week, despite the gloom.

It’s so neat – we’re just now seeing the first signs of Spring. Usually it irks me to no end that Spring starts to appear in February instead of the far more civilized April, but apparently I’ve finally adjusted to the seasons out here because these glimpses seem so welcome and encouraging to me. I have a bunch of theories (more snow this year, looking forward to evenings spent in the yard and on the patio, general attrition...), but regardless of the cause, I am so delighted to present: Crocuses!!

Yay!! And these plants, which I hated in the fall because I had to cull off all of the slimy black leaves that rotted underneath the plant, are now budding. Definitely winning their way into my heart.

I have to say, while the previous owners of the house were incapable of mounting anything (toilet paper holders, electrical outlets, towel bars, etc.) at level, they had a genius for landscape, or hired someone who did. It has been so fun to me to watch our yard change – even through the winter there’s so much going on, and with the number of buds I’m seeing already it seems like the next few months will be genuinely riotous with flowers and color. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

My potted mini daffodils are making an appearance, love the little bulb nubbins:

Other notes: the primrose came back after the snow, happier than ever!

My parents brought three more primroses when they arrived, and they’ve been living in the kitchen window until it gets warm enough to plant them. (I’m almost sure they’d make the transition to outside now, but they look so pretty in the kitchen that I don’t want to risk it.) I wouldn’t have chosen the colors of the one in the rock wall (maroon and gold), but it looks so cheerful from the house that I can’t wait to have more next year. The store up the street just put out a bunch of new colors, including many blues and purples. I may have to swing by tomorrow and pick up a few of them. I think the blues and purples would look so pretty with the yellow that my parents brought, and the pinks and reds would make another great spot.

In less happy news, the bamboo is sending up shoots like mad. Does anyone have advice for getting rid of it? Should I just dig? I’ve been searching online and not coming up with many shortcuts that seem viable...?

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Six seams to go!

February 12, 2008

Here are the 7 strips!

I'll need to do a little bit of trimming (probably on the kitchen table?) before seaming these guys together. And I'm getting awfully close to needing to figure out batting and whether it will be possible to quilt this.

Regarding quilting, I'm sort of torn. The intense quilting (and the oddly stiff, oddly puffy result) is so much work, difficult on the machine that I have, and really not that attractive to me. YET, people (on the internet, my source of all information) really do seem so happy with and proud of the results. What to do? The cheat answer is to just use knotted embroidery thread to hold everything together. Compelling, but I would like to say that I've quilted something. Another thought is to just sew the exterior of some of the squares -- easy, not fussy, but not particularly impressive, and I'm concerned that I'll like the pristine pieced top more than the half-heartedly quilted one. I'm just not a fan of prissy things, and too much of the quilted things I see fall in that camp. It's like knitted things from the 80s -- no appeal. Can anyone offer a good guide to (machine) quilting that's a little bit more modern?

In other news, Larry gets into WA tomorrow. I'm so excited. And I think I need one of these:

It has been SO GRAY here for the last two weeks, and I (never the up-and-at-em type, even under the best of circumstances) am running out of ideas for actually waking up and getting to work at a respectable hour. It's funny, the culture out here makes a lot out of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and espresso as a mood disorder treatment during the low-light months, but I don't find the grey season(s) depressing. The moss and the clouds really are beautiful, and I love the January full-day glimpses of mountains and blue sky. It's just very, very difficult to get up in the mornings. The cat option makes me laugh. Too bad Kevin's allergic.

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February 04, 2008

I’ve been waiting to post a photo of our new little dude due to superstition. I wanted to give him a few days to make sure he was healthy and coping with the transition to his new home before sharing the photos.

He’s easier to catch on film than our last yellow tang, but still does his fair share of darting away, resulting in photos like the one above. He really doesn’t trust us, but he spends a lot of time, fins flared, dead still despite the current, just watching when we come into view.

I’m totally enamoured with him.

We took my parents to the fish store, and came home with a new xenia and the tang. He didn’t eat for the first two days until we moved the nori clip to the bottom third and back of the tank, at which point he tucked in with enthusiasm. Over the last week, we’ve moved it to the bottom half of the front of the tank, and he’s still eating which is obviously making us cheerful.

We have him on the kitchen counter in the 10 gallon quarantine tank. Some pvc elbows for cover, a 600 maxijet for circulation, a filter with carbon, and a CPR Backpack II skimmer. We’ll keep him there for a month, barring any signs of illness. On day four we started noticing black ich (little pin-points of black – it’s a tubeworm that tangs are very prone to) and some sort of unidentifiable fuzzy, white, fibrous growth by his right tang. We did a pH-adjusted freshwater dip, which seemed to take care of the black ich, and the next morning the white fuzz seemed quite diminished. We’re keeping an eye on him, and he might get another dip soon if the fuzz doesn't completely disappear. He’s been very active and eating, dealt well with the dip, and doesn’t seem stressed (knock on wood). Here he is careening around the tank while we did a water change after the dip:



February 01, 2008

So all of the triangles are seamed into squares and pressed, and I was feeling sort of depressed about the likelihood that they would actually come together into actual squares of the same size. The more I looked at them and the more I pressed the seams flat, they seemed sort of defective and not-square and poorly measured.

So, a few nights off, and then I started sewing these non-squares into rectangles, and it was magical. With the exception of two or three squares that were truly ridiculous and lopsided going in, everything just worked. I have two piles – twenty more seams and the rows are done, and then it’s six more seams and the top is done and ready for straight borders, a back, and quilting.

The points on the seams are lovely. I’m ALL proud. For example:

Like the way that all of those Vs just *join*? The back of the squares are just as neat (I love seeing the wrong sides of quilts – the fronts always end up looking pretty and sort of OCD, but when you look at the back of a pieced square, you can just see exactly how much WORK went into the thing. Love all of those seams…)