September 29, 2023

Living Room Redo: Done!

It's finally, nearly, done.  The month long+ project of painting and updating the living room can (mostly) be checked off of my to-do list.
It's been quite a challenge, taking on such a big, awkward room while parenting a 2 year old.
I still have some trim work and the stair railings to paint, but for now I'm just enjoying the room. Oh, and a bit of touch-up behind the radiators (if you look closely you can see it in the photo below).
I heart the Nikki McClure prints/posters I found here. I bought some frames at IKEA and re-cut mats for them.  I also cropped the words out of the posters--I'm just not into reading and writing on the walls.
The Mister says these prints are quintessentially me, and I'd have to agree.  Sewing and shoe hoarding, ha!  The shoes that are on the feet totally look like the pair I wear all the time in the winter.

The new curtains are also from IKEA.  Including the paint (5 gallons at $125), I spent about $300 total, which isn't bad considering that we hadn't touched this room since we moved in.  Thank the previous owners for that dirty mustard color paint.
The rug used to be in our bedroom, and before that, in the living room. It sheds a lot (wool), so when S was crawling I didn't want to have him stuffing bits of wool lint in his mouth.

Here's a few before and after shots.  First the staircase, whose transformation was quite dramatic.  I painted the risers, which really opened up the space, visually.
The color I chose for the walls was Behr's Palm Breeze (420E-2), in case you're wondering.
I added a bookshelf to the space too.  We like having our books available to us and for Soren to see that books and reading are important to us.  The bookshelf also gives us more toy storage for the room.  I'd like to find a nice area rug or playmat to put over there so Soren's little knees aren't so uncomfortable on the wood floor.
Thanks goodness that ugly rust-colored trim is gone.  The long hours spent on the ladder painting and filling the gaps with caulk were well worth it.
 I will absolutely NOT miss that yellow paint.

This is such an awkward room to arrange furniture in. It used to be two rooms, but the last owners tore down the wall in the middle of the room and combined the small dining room and living room into one. It's nice to have so much space, but there's really not a good way of arranging a large couch and loveseat. I hate to block that front window too, like we used to when the love seat was in a different spot.

There was also a vestibule/foyer in the entrance way that was torn down as well, leaving some unfinished boards in the floor.  One day we plan to refinish the hardwood floor.
We'll be replacing the windows on the first floor in the next few weeks (the windows are original to the house, built in 1903), so we're excited about being warmer this winter in the room.

Folks, I'm tired.  Anyone up for painting the playroom? I need to use up the remaining 2 gallons of paint!  I overestimated how much I'd need, especially thinking it would take 2 coats to cover the yellow.  Is it wrong to paint the same color in another room?

September 28, 2023

Felted Autumn Runner {Tutorial}

The crafting bug has hit hard.  I don't know if it's the fall weather, enticing me to curl up with some knitting, or my newly found addiction to those image linkies that appear on so many craft blogs and have tons of fall craft inspiration on them.  Regardless, I've been itching to make some fall decor for the house, starting with a felted wool table runner.
I started with some wool that I had in my stash.  Ok, I have tons of wool in my stash, having felted many things over the years.  Specifically, here's what I needed, supply-wise:

  • Wool roving (carded, combed and dyed. I buy this from Halcyon Yarn)
  • Felting mat (or nubby shelf liner)
  • dish soap
  • hot water
  • water
  • old sheer curtain
  • bath towels
  • felting stone (optional) or two plastic bags
Put a large bath or beach towel down on your working surface (in my case, the kitchen table).  Lay your felting mat out on a large table, making sure the textured side is down.  The texture on the mat will help agitate the wool fibers and allow them to felt.  Depending on the size of the piece you want to make, you'll need a mat and surface that is slightly bigger than your finished size (felt shrinks).  Rather than a true felting mat, I used some nubby, bumpy shelf liner that I bought at IKEA on clearance.
Begin to layer your wool, mixing colors as you go. 
 The pieces of wool should all run the same direction for the first layer.
Once the first layer is completed, start a second layer making sure to lay the wool out perpendicularly to the first layer.  In this case I chose to use plain brown wool
 Yeah, kind of gross---looks like cousin It.
Keep adding layers, making sure each layer is laid out perpendicularly to the previous one.  I ended up making 4 layers.  You should do at least 4 to get a nicely felted piece of wool.
Once the wool sandwich is completed, lay the old sheer sheet on top.
This ensures that the felted layers won't move around while you're rubbing and felting them.  Put a tea kettle on for some hot water (or use your tap if you have really hot water, like over 120 degrees) and get out the dish soap.  I put a drop of dish soap in a bottle and added hot water.  Shake well.
Squirt/sprinkle the soap onto one end of the sheet
Then get your felting stone or 2 plastic bags (one on each hand, so they slide around over the curtain rather than stick to it) and start rubbing the wool.
 A felting stone is nubby on the back
Which allows it to agitate the fibers.  For the felting of wool to occur, one needs three things--heat, water and agitation--to happen.  Your hands do the same thing as the felting stone, and the dish soap and plastic bags help them not stick to the curtain and mess up your layers.

Start from the middle and work your way out to the sides.  The wool will compact down quite a bit. 
Keep adding more hot water (about 1/4 cup at a time), and rubbing.  
Here's a peek beneath the curtain.
It's beginning to felt!  I went back and forth between using the felting stone and my hands ensconced in plastic bags.
Once the layers have significantly flattened and are not shifting around, you can remove the curtain.
I put a bit more hot water on the felt, then roll up the mat.  The nubbies are going to do the work now!
Secure the ends with rubber bands so it doesn't unroll, and lay the wool sushi on a dry bath towel.
Roll it vigorously back and forth about 50 times.  Water will ooze out but that's ok.  Unroll the mat, then re-roll it from the other end.
You'll keep repeating this process until all layers are felted and won't pull away from each other.  I probably rolled it 200 to 250 times.  I also flipped the piece over and worked the other side, once it was able to be lifted without falling apart.
Once you're happy with the results, it's time to move onto the fulling process.
Remove the felt and lay it on another dry bath towel.  Roll it up like with the mat
 and roll vigorously another 50 or so times. This is helping to shrink the felt even more.
It works well doing this on the floor on my knees.  I remove the felt, then flip it over and roll it the other way too, often using another dry towel.
Once most of the moisture is removed, you're done! I'd like to embellish mine in the next week or so by squaring off the edges with scissors and doing some embroidery on it. Though I am partial to the organic, ragged edge too.
PS. How do you like those little votives?  I just covered votive holders with paper from an old book and wrote "boo" on them with a Sharpie. 

Scholastic Storybook Treasures Presents Mo Willems

I adore the storybooks of Mo Willems, particularly the quirky drawings and offbeat stories.  I was happy to find out that Scholastic Storybook Treasures series, another one of our favorite things, was releasing a DVD of Mo Willem's stories. 
The 49+ minute DVD includes  Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (presented both in English and Spanish) and Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, plus the bonus live-action feature “Mo and Pigeon Visit a School,” in which the author reads his book before an audience of children.

Soren and I quite enjoyed it, his favorite part being the scene where Trixie goes "boneless" when having a tantrum (naturally he would like this).  He also enjoyed the bus and truck in the main story, naturally too.  Mo Willems himself actually voice the pigeon too, which is nice.  Like all of the Scholastic Storybook Treasures DVDs, you can turn on the "read-along" feature, which is really great for helping kids learn to read.

Along with the animation of Willem's characteristic illustrations, I enjoyed the jazz music that accompanies the segments.  It adds a touch of sophistication to a simple "cartoon" (it feels a bit insulting to just call this a cartoon).

I highly recommend Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus from Scholastic Storybook Treasures for any of you Mo Willems fans or even newbies to his work.  At $14.95, it's a great deal.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus from Scholastic Storybook Treasures for review purposes.

September 26, 2023


Yet another growing season is coming to an end, so yesterday we began tidying up the garden and harvesting what was left of our summer crops.
We plan on planting some more spinach and leafy greens to hopefully enjoy into the fall--sadly the ones I sowed a few weeks back haven't done so well in the late summer heat and lack of rain.

We ended up pulling up some pretty good-sized onions, both red and yellow, which we were pleasantly surprised by. I wasn't sure how they'd do, having never grown them before.  The brussels sprouts were also harvested, and I don't think we'll grow them again next year.
They take up a lot of space and don't yield all that much. Plus Mr. Geek was kind of grossed out by them--they look like small tumors leeching off of a phallic-like spine.  Yes, he has quite a Clive Barker-esque imagination. He's using a hacksaw to cut the little buggers off, though he and Soren ended up plucking them in the end.
I'm drying the purple beans for next year's planting, or maybe for cooking into a soup over the winter.
Lots of green tomatoes--any good recipes?
Soren certainly had a nice time playing with them along with his trucks.
I put the tomatoes on the windowsills hoping that they'll turn red. That worked pretty well last summer.

The garden was a moderate success, overall.  Next year I'd like to nix the brussels, thin out the tomatoes and widen the bed.  I'd like to try cucumbers again, despite their demise courtesy of the cucumber beetle.  Definitely more lettuces and peas.  Maybe we'll do potatoes too.
The applesauce party last night was a success! All the jars sealed--hooray! I need to cook and can the rest of these beauties into some stewed apples that will be delicious over oatmeal this winter.  Or perhaps vanilla ice cream?

How I wish that harvest time wasn't so brief.  It seems like I'm frantically trying to capture all of the deliciousness of summer in a few weeks. I still would like to freeze peppers and corn, but methinks I just won't get around to it.

How are you trying to hold onto summer, culinarily or otherwise?
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