Saturday, February 23, 2019


Today is the one year anniversary of moving into our house! I spend so much time dwelling on my to-do list, that I thought it would be fun to look back on my did-it list. So here's a look at everything that's changed since we moved in!

While it was nice to start with a "blank slate," the cream-colored walls (and ceilings) quickly started to wear on me. We bought this house for so many practical reasons (location, price, space, layout), but I have struggled to build an emotional connection to it. Each time I finish painting a room, the house feels a little more like home.

First up, our entryway. We changed out the light fixture (does a bare light bulb qualify as a "light fixture?") for a lantern-style pendant. I painted the door in SW Dignity Blue. And I spent an embarrassing amount of money, effort, and time replacing the corroded brass door handle and trim set. (Worth it.) New shutters and landscaping are still in the future.

Next, one of the most impactful painting projects I've done: the built-in bookshelves in our living room. They just needed a little love when we moved in. We replaced a section of shelving, and I painted the back SW Web Gray. I love the dark backing, which really helps to show off all our pretty books and knick-knacks. We've been seriously hurting for bookshelf space since we "hacked" the IKEA shelves in our old house, and these give us plenty of room to grow our library. Plus, I get to display my vintage puzzles and my charm box.

The rest of the living room is painted SW Liveable Green with patterned curtains from IKEA. The room could use some decor (lamps, console table), but I'm very proud of my thrifty fern pictures. I downloaded the pictures for free, printed them at Staples, and put them in cheap frames from Michael's.

The dining room is probably our crowning achievement to date. We replaced the light fixture with this fantastic one from West Elm and added a ceiling medallion. I painted the ceiling a crisp white. Over the course of a weekend, Dan and Dad installed the wainscoting/moulding below the existing chair rail. I caulked and painted the bottom white and the top SW Green Bay. The color took me a while to choose, but I love how it works with the curtains (IKEA again).

I'm currently searching for the perfect wall decorations. I have one item that's made the cut, Dan's watercolor print of Cafe 210 West from Penn State. The original frame, a dark wood, blended into the walls too much so I refinished it using Rub 'n Buff (ridiculous name, excellent product). I blended gold and silver to make this champagne silver color. I also replaced the gray matte with a white one.

I decorated Mae's playroom shortly after we moved in. This room is an addition off our kitchen and has been great for keeping the toys contained and not exploding all over our living space. I bought the flower painting from Target and the colorful rug online (Wayfair, they had just what I need). I made the Valentine's garland from felt hearts and baker's twine. It looks so cute in here, I might just leave it up year-round!

I'm also growing a mini-jungle in the bay window. This room gets so much light! Plus, it's the perfect spot for my Flying Pig poster.

Next up, our bedroom. I used the same color card as our old bedroom (SW Dovetail), but several shades lighter (SW Repose Gray). The rug is from HomeGoods, and I finally bought new bedding from Macy's after pining for this comforter set for a few months. My favorite thing in the room (besides our wedding pictures of course) is the gold wire-framed mirror from Pier 1 that hangs over our dresser.

Are you wondering what happened to Mae's art gallery that used to adorn the wall over my desk? Don't worry, it has found a new home leading up the stairs! I need to swap out some of these pictures soon, but I just love her tiny handprint art!

Okay, I'm bending the rules a little here... I actually finished Mae's room before we moved in. I kept everything the same as her old nursery, to ease the transition to our new house. (Actually, it was because I just wasn't ready to give up her confetti curtains after working so hard on them.) A new blackout roll shade keeps the room dark for nap time. I installed trim pieces to separate the walls from the dormer ceilings, so I could paint the ceilings white and the walls Sherwin Williams Rainwashed. We had a custom-sized piece of carpet bound by a local flooring store, which is an affordable way to get a large, decent-quality area rug. (Yep, Mae's still in a crib. She hasn't realized that she could easily climb out. I'm hoping we don't have to give up her cage... erh, crib... any time soon. Giant Knit Bunny agrees with me.)

I haven't yet done anything with our office, kitchen, guest bedroom, or upstairs bath, so you'll have to wait on photos of those rooms. However, there is one last space that deserves a mention: this pink paradise.

Sure, it looks good here, but our main floor guest + master bathroom is in need of some serious love. It has cracked tiles, dated (not original) fixtures, and a general air of... sadness. Fingers crossed, we will have a contractor gutting this beauty in about a month. I can't wait!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

camas blouse

Another sewing project... This is the Camas Blouse pattern by Thread Theory Designs made with a solid-color Laguna knit by Robert Kaufman and an Art Gallery Fabrics knit print called "Bougainvillea." I was pleasantly surprised to see how well these fabrics pair together; it's really hard to order coordinating colors with online color swatches! Both fabrics are from Hawthorne Threads.

I made a size 8, with only a small modification to make the neckline a bit higher in the front. It's still not quite high enough to skip wearing a cami underneath, so I might bring it up a little more if I make this pattern again. The shirt is very wide/boxy, so it would probably look better in a fabric with more drape. Alternatively, I could bring the sides in a bit at the waist.

I interfaced the outer placket only, using Pellon EK130 knit interfacing. I'm not sure if this helped or hindered the already tricky placket assembly. My anxiety level rose quickly while attaching the stretchy, non-interfaced shirt body to the much more stabilized outer placket. (Dan wisely slunk out of the room when he noticed an increase in my grumbly mumbling.) Next time I might forego the interfacing. I didn’t make buttonholes and instead stitched the buttons through both layers to hold the front shut. The shirt works just fine as a pullover.

I finished this shirt in the fall, but hadn't worn it until our trip to Las Vegas. With it's low neckline and 3/4 sleeves, it's a better top for transitional weather than chilly winter days.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

what happens in vegas...

... Gets plastered all over social media. The line to get our picture taken at the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign was a half hour long! (Worth it, right?)

Anyways, here are my DOs and DON'Ts of a winter Vegas getaway

DO wear your FitBit
I got over 50,000 steps during our 3 days in Las Vegas! (I finally beat Dad at our weekend competition. His Saturday tennis matches usually crush my best attempts.) We stayed at Bally's, which is right in the middle of the strip, across from Bellagio. Friday we walked south, to Mandalay Bay and back. Saturday we walked north, as far as Wynn. We did a little window shopping and admired all the glamorous Chinese New Year / Year of the Pig decorations. Seriously, pigs were EV-ERY-WHERE.

DON'T assume that desert = hot
On Sunday, we rented a car and drove to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The sky looked a bit ominous as we made the turn off the main road, but I was completely unprepared for "desert winter." The sky darkened. The wind chill dropped from 50F to 27F. The sleet/snow mix began as we started on the 13 mile driving loop around the park. The Visitor's Center made bank on sweatshirt sales.

We stopped at several spots along the loop to walk around and take photos. I was entertained both by the beautiful scenery and by other visitors' excitement about seeing snowflakes. "A snowflake!! Take a picture, take a picture!!"

DO eat some good food
We took the recommendation of our Uber driver and breakfasted at Mon Ami Gabi in Paris. It's not too expensive, opens early, and has patio seating right across from the Bellagio fountain. Just check out this view. Handsome dude and a classy hotel.

We ate lunch at China Poblano, José Andrés' Chinese-Mexican fusian restaurant restaurant in Cosmopolitan. It was the perfect menu for Dan (could eat Asian food every meal for the rest of his life) and me (never tires of Mexican food).

Also, I had a slice of cheese pizza from Sbarro. It was excellent, as always.

DON'T waste your money on slot machines
Waste it on cheap video Blackjack. Way more fun.

I lost $4. The pain of my loss was eased by the fact that I found $2 on the ground. Dan lost $0.25 (which is practically winning, considering that he played for a couple hours). High rollerrrrrs.

DO see a show
Saturday evening, we saw Cirque du Soleil LOVE, the one featuring Beatles music. I had to adjust my expectations after the first few minutes, since it was much more about dance, performance, and staging than the mind-bending acrobatics I expect from Cirque. It was high-energy and visually mesmerizing, with fabulous music (of course).

DON'T get hung up on finding the perfect souvenir
Even with all the shops and bling in Sin City, I actually never found a Vegas-related bracelet charm. One of the little shops in the Paris hotel had an Eiffel tower charm. I can't quite put my finger on why, but that just didn't feel very "Vegas-y" to me. Fortunately, National Parks/Preserves/Conservation Areas always have me covered... so, no Vegas charm this trip, but I did get a Red Rock one.

Our most successful souvenir purchase of the trip was a pair of kids' binoculars for Mae. She's super into "noculars" right now (thanks, Daniel Tiger) and was thrilled to have her own pair... even if she looks in them backwards sometimes. "I see youuuu. You soooo tiiiiinyyyy."

DO come home (eventually)
Mae spent the weekend with Grandma and Grandpa, and had a great time. They went to an indoor pool and had a long playdate with Oliver. But, by Sunday, Mae was telling Grandma, "Mommy and Daddy live in Las Vegas."

Monday afternoon, Mom met us at the airport with our car and our kid. Mae was so excited to see us. I walked up to the car first, and she started screeching, "Mommy! Mommy!" When Dan showed up a few minutes later, she actually burst into happy sobs. (Yeah, yeah. I know. He's the favorite.) The whole ride home, she addressed every statement to, "Grandma Grandpa... erh... Mommy Daddy!"

She has been such a chatterbox lately. Last week during dinner, I was trying to tell Dan something and she kept talking over me. I turned to her and said firmly, "Mae! I am talking to Daddy right now!" To which she cheerfully replied, "Yeah! I talking to Daddy, too!"

Pretty crazy weekend, right? Maybe it was actually totally wild, but all that stuff "stayed in Vegas," so I can't tell you about it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

linen stitch

This cold, wintry weather just makes me feel like knitting. Plus, I got some new yarn for Christmas (thank you, Kathy & Eileen!) so I'm trying to finish up a few languishing projects and start on new ones! Both of these projects were knit with my purchases from Kentucky Wool Fest this year.

First up is a pair of Broken Linen Stitch socks (the socks aren't broken, that's just the name of the stitch pattern). The yarn is Good Juju by Deep Dyed Yarns in the colorway Nebula. This yarn looked so cool twisted up in a skein, and I love how it knit up into socks! This was my first time knitting a heel flap, and it wasn't nearly as difficult as I expected (although I did have to re-do the gusset a couple times to get the heel over my foot). This was also my first time making ankle socks. They are super comfortable and way quicker to knit than mid-calf socks. Project details on my Ravelry page.

I also knit what felt like a mile of (unbroken) linen stitch for this cowl. (It was only a quarter of a mile, actually.) I started out strong but it became a little monotonous towards the end. The yarn was in the mystery bag I picked up from Jessica's Creations at Wool Fest this year. It's a sock weight yarn in the colorway Sunny Days. Project details on my Ravelry page.

I wore the cowl the to zoo a couple weeks ago for the penguin parade, where the zookeepers lead penguins on a walk through the zoo. I didn't realize how much I looked like a penguin in my black coat and yellow scarf until I saw the pictures later. We had so much fun getting up close with the penguins! Plus, it was a good excuse to try out my new camera lens. The autofocus on my kit lens has died a slow death over the last year, so I finally bought a new lens. I've only taken a few pictures so far, but I'm having fun playing with my new toy!