Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Let's see how I did for 2009 and what I plan to do for 2010:
1. Blog more often - In 2008 I had 67 posts and in 2009 I posted about half that: 33 (counting this one). I didn't have any sewing content and only a little knitting content to talk about so most of my posts were about the renovations we did on the house and my travel. I am going to try to blog more about my textile projects next year, since that is the intent of this blog. There are some knitting projects in process that I should photograph and share, and I hope to get back to sewing and share those projects as well.
2. Lose weight. I should just take this one off the list! I actually did make an earnest attempt in October and lost two pounds (woohoo)...and then I quickly gained it back eating yummy food in France. At least I am eating a little healthier. Last summer we started getting a weekly delivery of a vegetable/fruit box, so now I'm eating more salads and greens and fruit than before. I do need to exercise though, which I will try to do next year.
3. Embrace my hobbies. Knitting, travel and photography (while traveling) were about the only hobbies I embraced. I guess home renovation is on the list too but in a different sense than it used to be. We used to do all of the work ourselves but now we don't have the time. But we do have the money so we put some of it into the local economy and hired a contractor to do the labor. I still did the design work, which is the part of renovation I like the most. I do hope to get back into sewing in 2010. My sewing area has been buried under a pile of stuff, mostly sewing related stuff, but it can't be put away until the renovations are complete. The bedroom where I set up my cutting table is next on the list for demo and redo so it's going to be a few months until I can sew again. I do have a custom-built pattern cabinet and bookshelf to show off, I just need to take the pictures and post them.
4. Think before I buy. I'm doing pretty well with this one and expect to continue next year. At the beginning of last year I did a major closet clean out, which was a good thing considering that we did a major closet redo as part of the renovations and everything had to come out anyway. I donated a lot of clothing and realized that much of it was barely worn. Some clothes no longer fit but even when they did fit I don't think I wore them enough to justify the purchase or a place in the closet. I decided that I needed to be more critical when buying (or making) clothes and I've been doing that. When I bought clothes for my new job I was very picky. It made it harder to shop but it was worth it. I also am very critical when I buy other stuff. More than a few times I found myself in a store, holding an item in my hand and really being honest with myself about why I wanted to buy it and if I was really going to use it or if I just wanted to buy something. Watching the show Hoarders on A&E also helps curtail the urge to buy more stuff. Believe me.
5. Find the good in my work. I have a job again and it is good. Sometimes I don't want to go to work, and I remember with a bit of nostalgia about the 3-4 months of unemployed "playtime" I enjoyed last year, but there really is good in my work. First, I'm fulfilling a critical need with my customer, which makes me feel very useful. Second, the retirement accounts are getting a nice boost. Third, the extra income let us renovate the house, travel to Japan, and enjoy life. As they say...money can't buy happiness, but it sure helps.
6. Nurture relationships. Same as last year - I think I did ok but can do better, especially with family. I call my mom every Sunday but don't talk much with my siblings. But I did call my sisters on Christmas Day and we had nice chats. (Hi D! Now that I know you follow my blog!)
I know 2009 has been a difficult year for many people, especially for those without jobs. I know we're fortunate but it wasn't just luck that got us here. Our parents valued education, which in my opinion is a solid foundation for so much in life. Also, my DH loves me but he also respects me, trusts me, and is a true partner and we have built a good life together. So on that happy note, I wish you all a great new year and hope you are all fortunate in your lives!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
Thursday, December 03, 2009
My sore throat turned into a cold. Bleh. I'm sniffling and snuffling and taking cold medicine with the instructions in French. I can understand enough French to determine how much to take and when and that it's ok for me to take it because I'm older than 15.
Apparently the stuff works because I had renewed energy this evening and decided to go out, even in the rainy weather. I went to the Monoprix to look for sewing pattern magazines but they only had Burda and one rather dog-earred Fait Main, which I decided wasn't worth the 5.5 euros (about $8.30). I did pick up a superb Burda special knitting issue on socks. I briefly looked at it in the store but now that I've flipped through every page I think it was definitely 6 euro well spent. It's a bargain for what you get. These are not simple socks.
The magazine has instructions for 30 socks, representative of 20 different European countries. Each one is quite intricate and gorgeous and I want to make all of them. Well, except for the tacky one with the Eiffel Tower intrasia! Yes, the instructions are in French, but they all have charts and I have a knitting instruction book in French, so I think I can figure it out.
To my knitting friends out there, let me know if you want me to see if I can pick up another copy. I can't promise, since I bought the only copy at Monoprix and I only have this weekend and one Saturday to shop. And remember, the magazine is entirely in French. But let me know if you want me to try.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I'll start with the very good - I'm in the French Riviera and I didn't pay to fly over here.
Ok, now the bad. I lost two sets of double points and a sock knitting holder (the needles were inside the tube) on the airplane, I had to rip back all of the patterned part of the mitts because of a very bad error that could not be fixed, it's raining and chilly, I woke up a 3 am with a sore throat and could not go back to sleep.
But there is some good. Work is going ok, I have free internet in the hotel room, the hotel room is big...a little shabby, but I really can't complain, I'm in France!, I found replacement double points to knit the cuffs of the mitts, so I can at least finish them.
My throat still hurts so I went out to the pharmacy to get some throat drops. Here in France the pharmacist dispenses assistance and an appropriate remedy. So I practiced what to say in French: J'ai mal à la gorge...but didn't use it. I walked in and there was a basket of "Vicks" throat lozenges packages. Perhaps not as potent as what the pharmacist could give me but hopefully they'll help. Since I have a few medicinal allergies I didn't want to risk taking something that might cause me a rash...or worse.
Since I was already out in the chilly air - and the rain has let up for now - I thought I'd see about replacing my knitting needles. I passed a rather pricey looking knitting shop yesterday and although I was sure the needles would be way overpriced (this IS Cannes and the shop looked like it catered to the elite), I decided to try it anyway. I again practiced what to say and brought along one of my remaining needles to show them what I was talking about. But the shop is closed on Monday. Oh well. Not wanting to give up just yet, I tried the Monoprix - a lower priced department and grocery store. Score! They had a section called "Le Weekend" with shelves of mostly acrylic blend yarn, a small selection of essential sewing supplies and a few pairs of knitting needles. But I guess something went right for me today because one of the pairs was 2.5 mm double point...almost exactly what I needed. I say "almost" because bamboo would have been preferable over the metal but they'll do just fine, thank you. And I didn't pay an exhorbitant amount for them either. Woot!
Now if I could get over this sore throat and escape without a cold or flu (had my flu shot, but not H1N1).
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The cardigan is knit out of one skein of Plymouth Italia Fingerpaints (discontinued) with the cuffs and collar out of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride bulky. I used the remaining Brown Sheep for the hat. The pattern for the cardigan is "Toddler Cardigan" by Hope Blazer and Joanne Turcotte, and I used "New Directions Hat" by Margaret K. K. Radcliffe for the hat.
I started a new knitting project yesterday on the 10 hour flight from San Francisco to Paris and then the 1.5 hour flight fron Paris to Nice. Yes - I'm traveling again! But it's not a vacation. I'm in Cannes for work for two weeks. The new knitting project is the "Endpaper Mitts" by Euny Jang:
And I'll leave you with a not so "soleil" Cannes beach:
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima (near Hiroshima)
Statue outside the Nagoya station
More to come...
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Oooh and there's a contest to win an actual Valentino gown. It's red and it's fabulous.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Yes I bought it and no I haven't even started the first one. I'm a knitter (and sewer) with stashes. What did you expect? But I am almost finished this short sleeved twisty sweater from Sublime:
I may not be sewing right now (still don't have the sewing room(s) back in order) but I am knitting.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
- we've never been there before
- it's an 11 hour, nonstop flight from San Francisco
- we'll be lost and unable to translate any street signs unless they're in English
- as much as we like to not stand out as tourists when we travel, it will be nearly impossible to do so
- I will probably come home with fabric...likely to be silk
- I will probably come home with some sewing notions that I can't buy here at home
- we will likely eat fish for many of the meals
- the train will be a fast (very fast) form of transportation
- it's likely to be very warm this time of year
So where do you think it is?
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
InStyle magazine has an "inside" look into the fashions of three of the female stars. I like Peggy's outfit...and especially her tiny waist highlighted even more by the belt. But I can only imagine the undergarments (and dieting) required to get that look. Can she breathe?
If you want to copy the Mad Men look, Banana Republic has a Mad Men Style Guide to go along with the "Casting Call" contest run by AMC. So far I have to say that most of the entries in the contest look like head shots of professional 21st century actors - many didn't even dress the part.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Even though I know the male takes over for stretches of the incubating period, I'll just refer to the bird as "her." It's hard not to startle her since she's so close to the house and we need to move about the patio to tend to the pond and take out the compost. She pretty much stays quietly sitting on the two little white eggs, peering out with tiny black eyes. Last weekend I forgot about our feathered visitor and took my laptop out to the patio to do some work. She was stayed motionless in her nest while I worked at the table (off to the right in the above picture) but when my husband came around the side of the house to talk to me, we both forgot about her and eventually she lost her nerve and flew off. I am concerned for her eggs because she didn't return for half an hour. But she's back. I took the above picture this morning and she (or he) is there in the white pot on the left, pretty well hidden among the chives.
This is likely her second attempt this season. A Mourning Dove laid two eggs last month but one day both the doves and the eggs vanished. Since we never saw any babies nor was there any evidence that anything hatched, I'm afraid the eggs became breakfast for a squirrel.
The renovations on our own "nest" continue. Our contractor built us a window seat and bookshelves for the bedroom and installed them yesterday. I am really pleased with them. I'm also glad I made the last minute decision to lower the window seat height from the height of the window sill to 19 inches. There is some finishing work to be done, like trim and paint (white) and installation of the shelves, but here's a photo of the progress:
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Refinishing your own floors isn't that hard to do, it's just tedious. You need to rent a floor sander and use a hand sander for the edges. Ear protection is a must as the sanders are very noisy. You should also wear a respirator or at the very least a mask because the wood dust is very fine. We rented the floor sander from the hardware store (Orchard Supply, or "OSH" for those of you in northern California). In the past we've rented floor sanders from that "orange" big box home improvement center and found them to be pretty beat up. Plus, the last time we rented one from them we saw they'd removed the skirt at the bottom that helps keep the dust contained (all of the sanders had it removed, why we don't know). Without that skirt there was A LOT of wood dust. I had to constantly use the shop vac while my husband ran the sander. The sander we rented from OSH is an orbital sander from Varathane and it works pretty well to sand and vacuum at the same time. It's really easy to push and you just have to move it around the floor...back and forth, back and forth. It takes a while and uses up lots of heavy grit sandpaper to get through the tough varnish, especially the oil-based stuff they used in the late 60's when our house was built. But eventually you can switch to a finer grit sandpaper and then finish it off with the finest grit. The next step is staining and varnishing. We use water-based polyurethane and put on about 4-5 coats.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Here's another picture of the tiles (now showing the completed wall) and you can probably see lots of zig-zags - or at least I can:
Since neither I nor my husband was home to see the actual tile, we were relying on the cell phone picture of the tile. The message to fix the tile was routed through our contractor and then to the tile guy. When the tile guy looked at the tile, I'm sure he thought we were nuts, but he moved a few of the small tiles anyway. He asked his assistant to take a picture to send to the contractor but when the assistant prepared to take the picture he got a screwy look on his face as he looked from the camera to the tile and back again. Now they saw what we saw!
So mystery solved. The tile is just fine and we've all learned that pictures can lie, especially when it's a picture of glass mosaic tile!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Bathroom floor, looking in from the doorway:
Shower floor (those are temporary wood strips just above the strip of mosaic):
The shower as of this morning:
This one shows how wide the mosaic border is. The white tile will continue above the mosaics to the ceiling:
It's been a more labor intensive tiling job than the "tile guy" first thought. But he is doing an absolutely beautiful job. I'll probably be taking longer showers just to admire the tile. I am sure his other construction work is just as well done, so I highly recommend Dastrup Construction.
I finished writing this post and was about to publish it when I saw something in the above picture that made my heart just sink. Do you see it? The mosaic tiles above the inset shelf are not very random, in fact they are down right regular...in a ziggedy zaggedy way. I tried not to see it. I thought maybe I was just noticing it because of the lighting. Mosaic tile comes pre-arranged in sheets so it's not the tilers fault. They certainly didn't lay the individual tiles that way. Somehow the sheets, which are 12x12, must have come that way. But I knew it was speak now or forever live with the tile because tomorrow they're going to grout. The tile guys now see the issue and they're fixing it. Crisis averted.
The other projects are progressing. The bedroom drywall is up and after the tiling is finished, the drywaller will come back to tape, mud, and smooth out the joints. There are eight 4" diameter recessed lights in the ceiling (yay - light!) and the contractor repositioned electrical outlets so they are more accessible and added one more. The ceiling fan box is also wired. This is the fan we're thinking of getting. It will have maple blades and a brushed nickel housing:
(picture from Modern Fan Company)
The front of the house (where this whole project first started) is also almost finished. The front doors are being stained and will be installed once the interior workmen are finished going in and out so we can minimize wear and tear on the new door.
So it looks like a few more weeks to go. I think we (as in me and the husband) will be refinishing the floors, putting in closet organizers, painting, and installing the light fixtures and ceiling fan. All things we've done before. We've also done tiling, drywall, and electrical ourselves but it's been good to pay someone else to do these things this time, especially after seeing how difficult the tiling is.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
The plan is to build a window seat across the bottom width of the window with drawers in it for storage and there will be built-in bookshelves on either side.
And if you're wondering what the "polka dots" are, they're remnants of the glue that held on the wainscoting. Lots more work to be done!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Click to view larger...
The tile for both the floor and the shower floor is blue-gray with hints of brown. It's a porcelain tile from Italy (TC Textile) and it has texture to it, kind of like grass cloth. We'll be using large 13"x26" tile on the floor and small squares on the shower floor. We got the idea from the tile store. Here's a photo from their showroom mock-up:
The wall tile is an 8"x13" porcelain tile (Line Blanco) from Spain that is white with faint vertical brown streaks. The mosaic tile is from Mandala tile, Wavelength blend in the Rimini color, but the picture on their website doesn't really look like it does in real life. It goes really well with the two other tiles.
So it will be a modern bathroom, but not too far out. I know the last concept pictures I showed were of a more neutral bathroom with stone tiles but we decided to go with my original desire to incorporate glass mosaic tile. I think it will look great.
The skylight is in and it's fabulous to have afternoon sun in that part of the house. I want to put skylights all over the house now! All the electrical and plumbing is finished and the contractor planned to finish the shower and tape the drywall today. The bay window for the bedroom arrives on Wednesday so he'll shift gears to install that and finish the siding. The front door should arrive next week. I'll be getting my sketchpad out again to draw up my ideas for the bathroom vanity and the bookshelves/window seat that the contractor will be building for us. I kinda like being a designer.
Friday, April 03, 2009
I'm also happy that we're not doing the work. This time. We've done a lot of the work on our house ourselves and while I enjoy the accomplishment of DIY, it's a lot of work. I love the design process and I like understanding how everything fits together (like electrical and plumbing), but it is stressful because much of DIY is learned on the job, and I don't mean my 9-5 job. For that I first got an education and then had managers and peers to guide me. But even though someone else is doing the labor, I'm still providing the design input and I do enjoy that. I'll share with you what we're doing with the bathroom and I welcome any comments too!
Here is the bathroom layout, which I drew up in Visio because I love playing architect. (click to biggify)
We're not changing the layout except to expand the vanity, which was a 36" cabinet flanked by cat boxes on either side. We're incorporating space for one cat box in the new, custom-built cabinet. The new cabinet will have shelves built into one side but we'll temporarily remove the shelves and put the cat box in there. When it comes time to sell the house, out comes the cat box and in go the shelves to show off fluffy towels and a basket for storage. The other side of the cabinet will be drawers and the middle, where the sink is, will be doors. I know you might be wondering why we're not putting in double sinks. I think double sinks would take up too much cabinet storage and counter space and besides, the bathroom isn't really big enough for two people to use at the same time. Plus, the other bathroom is right next to the master bath.
The new vanity area will look a bit like the picture (shamelessly copied from the internet) below, but I don't think we'll have such a large mirror, there will be a light above the mirror as well as on either side, and the cabinet won't have doors on either end. But otherwise it is a good representation of the overall look.
Another major change is the shower. You can't tell from the drawing, but the wall between the shower and the toilet used to go to the ceiling and now it will be a half wall with glass above it. The old shower had sliding glass shower doors in the front which resulted in a too-small opening and also were hard to clean because they overlapped. The new shower door will look something like this:
The bathroom was always pretty dark, partly because of the big dividing wall and also because it only has a small window that looks out onto the narrow side yard and the house next door. We are installing a vented skylight in the ceiling and that should bring in lots more light. I was concerned about privacy because the house next door is two story while ours is a ranch, but it looks like the geometry of the skylight opening prevents a clear line of sight. Also, the skylight is only 22x22 inches.
We're also changing the door from one that swung into the bathroom (and got in the way) to a pocket door. Unfortunately the pocket door can't go on the other wall because the plumbing is being relocated to that wall. The wall to the right of the vanity will have to be built out some to accommodate the wall switch but it may not protrude too much. Also, we could install a medicine cabinet in that wall if we make the wall deep enough. Haven't decided about that yet. Yes, I considered moving the switches to the other wall and in fact that was the instruction I gave the contractor this morning, but I changed my mind by lunchtime. Putting them on that wall will reduce the size of the shower by a few inches and I just don't want to do that. Also, the pocket door will probably remain open most of the time so access to the switches when you enter the room shouldn't be a problem.
We haven't decided on the tile but here are some ideas. I like the look of the larger tile on the walls and the small tile on the shower floor, but not necessarily set on the diagonal. Hadn't thought about tiling the ceiling. We will also have a recessed light in the shower.
I like these rectangular tiles, with the edging on the top, but I don't care for the medallions. And what on earth are all the handles for? Maybe those aren't medallions but jet sprays? We're just going for a nice, but basic shower fixture - no rain heads or jet sprays.
Do you spot a theme here? I like the neutral palette and look of natural stone. This border's a bit too fussy for me, but it's another example of big tiles on the wall and small tiles on the shower floor.
I like this decorative border because it's simple. This picture was of the tiling in progress. The large blocks continued above the border but pictures of the final tile didn't show the detail of the border very well.
Our contractor said he can put in a shelf. I think this is what he described to me. I don't like the size of the tiles in the inside but I do like the two areas and the size of the mitered border is pretty good.
I like the look of the tiny tile in the inset but I'm not crazy about the thick mitered border and the thick shelf.
One more feature to the bathroom is a cabinet above the toilet. We had one previously and had no problem filling it up. Since I'd like to have a decorative mirror above the vanity we will lose the medicine cabinet we once had (and filled to capacity). But I think I've come up with an interesting alternative. Mount spice-rack type shelves on the inside of the doors to the cabinet above the toilet. I like the design below because the Plexiglas lets you still see what's on the shelves. Our contractor is going to build the cabinet so he should have no problem replicating this design.
So this is why I haven't been sewing. I've been busy playing interior designer. And exterior designer as well. This all started as a siding project, along with new doors. The doors won't be in for a few more weeks but here's what they will look like:
Can you see me smiling? I'm so happy and excited that these projects are getting done. The house already looks a thousand percent better even with only part of the siding up and painted. The bathroom is not the end of the projects (hopefully). The bedroom is next. We have talked with our contractor about putting in a tray ceiling (to make the room feel larger), recessed lighting, refinishing the floors, redoing the walls, and installing closet organizers. I dread packing everything up and moving it to wherever we can find space in the rest of the house, and we'll have to sleep in the guest room, which is currently occupied by too much of my sewing stuff, but I think the reward will be worth it. The rooms will be fabulous. And then I can get back to sewing.