I just moved to the Allentown/South Whitehall Area a couple of weeks ago and I am finally starting to get settled. We have been setting up my Craft room and that has reminded me that I wanted to try to locate crafty people/goings on/doings in the area. Are there any crafty groups around here that I should know about?
When I'm not caring for my 1 year old, I'm knitting, crocheting, sewing, sculpting, embroidering, cross stitching, or decorating. If you want proof, check my other posts - we really enjoyed re-doing our house in Pittsburgh and now I have a new house to focus on.
I'm looking for friends that enjoy similar activities and either don't mind my baby being around or have babies of their own.
You know we'd get along if the idea of a warehouse of vintage fabric for cheap actually makes you hyperventilate a little.
I'm from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and I am coming for a week long trip to Northern California with my husband. This will probably be our last Vacation, just the two of us, for many years!
I LOVE to craft. I do everything from sewing and quilting to jewelry to sculpting, etc. We're still planning out our trip itinerary and I'm in charge of finding out if there are any specific crafty events or craft shops/stores/thrift places that we should make a point of visiting. I'd love to peruse some Japanese fabrics (Kawaii stuff).
Does any one have suggestions? We're flying into Eureka and heading down to San Francisco.
This is a long one. Three years ago, Greg and I moved into our home, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
The above is a photo of the bed room that we took when we were first looking at the house. When we very first moved in, we set up the room like this:
This photo was taken a month later; it shows you where the bedroom door WAS when we moved in.
I dressed as a southern belle for Halloween that year. I found that dress in a thrift store for $2. While we worked on other projects throughout the house, the bedroom morphed also. It went from this:
and the closet of this:
To a different orientation of the bed, and the addition of some (on sale) orange curtains.
The different orientation of the bed kept the bed away from the door way. Before, one of our nightstands was right next to the door, so that when you walked in, the very first thing in front of you was the night stand. The night stands have drawers. We keep private married-people stuff in those drawers. I won't get graphic here, but it is a colorful, eye-catching sort of drawer when it's open. We moved the bed on a Monday after a weekend visit from Greg's grandparents. I had mentioned to Greg's Grandmother that I had a really cool Halloween costume (see above). So despite the fact that we had carefully put all of our energy into cleaning and straightening the REST of the house and mutually agreed to leave the bedroom door firmly shut, I invited her in, left her at the entrance to the bedroom, and scurried to the closet to grab the costume to bring it out to show her. When I brought it out she seemed distracted. I put the costume away, and we left the room. She went out first. As I turned to close the bedroom door behind me - I caught a glimpse of the WIDE open married persons drawer, on display for my grandmother-in-law. I think I blushed for a solid hour. SO we MOVED the bed. The previous purchase of the bright orange curtains made it mentally possible for us to whole heartedly embrace these $2 shelves we found at Pottery Barn Clearance in their Teen section.
That is one of our many love seats, the scuzzy carpet, AND the broken blinds all in one photo. That's talent people. That's also my fish tank. I used to have fish in college. I liked taking care of them. Unfortunately, they died alot. And when the few I brought to Pittsburgh died, Greg strongly encouraged me not to get anymore. But I know Eevee misses them.
The broken blinds happened in the middle of the night when I awoke to seeing a cat IN the blinds above the headboard, and then falling out of the blinds.
That was my effort to be artistic. We collected all of those ledges and boxes from thrift stores and we painted them black and hung them on the wall. The only result was that Greg would regularly smack his head into them while getting out of bed and walking out of the room.
This was our closet "revamped".
I spent a lot of energy ignoring the shortcomings of what should be a relaxing and welcoming and private space. This year it became a source of pain for us. Both of us were unsatisfied with it. Both of us longed for something finished, beautiful. The first thing we truly redid was the ceiling fan. Somewhere in there, he got the brilliant idea that by putting up a garbage bag AROUND the hole (and himself) there would be significantly less mess.
On May 15th my husband told me that for my birthday, on June 12th, he would complete our bedroom. He would spackle, sand, rip up carpet, replace carpet, paint, and put the finishing touches on. SO, we moved stuff out.
And we moved the vast majority of it into the craft room.
Then Greg spent weeks spackling and sanding.
Then we started to rip up the carpet. A big carpet store was having a sale, so we got an estimate from them and after getting them to drop their price over $1000, we accepted the deal. We scheduled it and then worked hard to get everything (painting) done in advance for it. Because of Greg's perfectionism, we would also be tearing out the carpet ourselves, even though that was included in the deal. He just couldn't handle the idea that they'd tear the carpet out and do nothing about the floor board squeaks. We started to take the carpet up in the closet. There were different kinds of carpet in the closet vs. the bedroom, vs. the hallway, vs. the stairs up to the attic. Underneath the closet carpet we found this red carpet:
Underneath that we found newspaper.
I did save one or two clips. There were surprising and important things to remember in some of those papers. Such as, did you know?:
Then there was the bedroom itself, first with its beige carpet, then with red carpet.
Then tapestry carpet.
Then laminate flooring - JUST ON THE EDGES:
And of course we found tile.
After all that was ripped out, there were still thousands of staples.
This was Sunday, three days before the carpet was to be installed. We called in as much back up as possible - but there was limited availability, and there were some set backs. We had a friend edge the bedroom ceiling,
while another friend quashed the creaks and squeaks in the floorboard and stairs, while Greg sanded the door frames,
While I painted the banister and all the trim I could get my hands on. This is for another post, but we also carpeted the stairwell/hallway and so that needed to be painted before it all went in also - in addition to everything we were doing for the bedroom. On Tuesday, I convinced Greg that we should postpone the carpet installation. The stubborn man agreed to postpone it... 24 hours. We were able to put in one extra night of work. That night there was a terrible thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms so I was happy to hear the pouring rain and the cracking thunder. I was painting trim, and Greg was scraping, and two of our friends came over for an hour while we were tirelessly edging, and painting, and scraping and sanding...
Then Greg decided he needed a different scraper, so he ran down to the basement and all of a sudden I hear "HOLY CRAP".
Water was pouring into our basement, not from under our walk-out basement door, but UP from a drain in the middle of the floor. It was almost a fountain in the middle of the basement floor - and after racing down to see what the problem was, we all froze on the stairs, COMPLETELY unsure of what to do. I ran upstairs, called an emergency Roto Rooter appointment, grabbed whatever towels I could get my hands on and ran back downstairs. Greg had disconnected the extension cord that had been hanging and half submerged in the water - plugged in - and was now lining up paint cans to get out to the fountain.
And then he took this big canvas drop cloth and shoved it on the hole, put a cement block on it, and stood on it. Eventually, it slowed and stopped, and then we packed it up and went back up to our painting. It was very surreal. Apparently it flooded a second time - but we were more "live and let live" with the water then. I fell into a dead sleep at about 1 a.m. Greg stayed up all night working. He swore he would finish everything - painting every room.
He didn't. But I love him for trying.
Greg stayed home the next day so that someone else was in the house. I was feeling relieved - the day had FINALLY come... until I caught a glimpse of these two standing at attention in the front office.
It didn't take very long to figure out they were staring at a bird.
I discovered the bird at approximately 7:55 a.m. I had to leave for work. The carpet guy was going to be there any second. The cats were having a blast stalking and watching the bird. I made a conscious decision NOT to think about the bird. Or what the cats might do to the bird. So we left for work, and the carpeting commenced:
When I got home, I discovered this:
Sweet carpet. It was beautiful. My only complaint we had was that they underestimated the amount of carpet needed, so about 12 steps were left UNcarpeted.
But all was well, the carpet guy came back the next day to finish the job, and it was good. Dexter also liked the carpet. But he liked the leftover padding even more.
And despite minor setbacks like that, the carpeting brought us closer together as a family.
So, Greg spent another week and painted the bedroom. Then we started moving everything back in. First to the closet:
And the other complication about the closet was that we wanted doors . Two separate doors. We called 12 door places in Pittsburgh - and NOBODY sold doors like that. Now, between you and me, Greg latches on to things sometimes. When he latches on, he becomes minorly obsessive... He found a place in Ohio - an hour and a half away - that made these doors. At this point I was like, why don't we just get one door and be done? please? And he was like, No.
So we drove an hour and a half, there and back, to get new closet doors . We moved in the bureaus:
And the bed:
And then we put the finishing touches in the room... including curtains, new blinds, lights, a new bookcase (NO MORE ORANGE SHELVES!) and a new comforter. Now, I invite you to enter my sanctuary --- My Bedroom.
As you walk in, the bed is immediately on your left and the low bureau is immediately on your right.
This is a reverse look at the doorway into and out of the bedroom along the bureau wall. The Bureau is the same one we started with but we took the chunky hutch up to the attic.
On top of the bureau we have a table runner, two globe lights and an iridescent glass dish. Before the renovations, I used to throw jewelry on the bureau where it would accumulate till it resembled a nightmarish jewelry monster. While there will definitely still be casual placement of jewelry on the bureau - now I can aim for that pretty glass dish.
And continuing along that wall with the bureau is the doorway to our closet! The door on the adjacent wall is to my mini-shoe closet. This closet is approximately 1 foot deep - not even deep enough for hangers.
Continuing on, you can catch another glimpse of what is probably my favorite bedroom feature.
Oh my pretty pretty book shelves. I loves them. They are wonderfuls. And the books are organized by color. YES color.
And front and center is my favorite childhood book. The tilted books just happen to be a few of my absolute favorites. Moving onward to the far corner of the room is the second bureau.
This one also features two globe lights and a table runner. The globe lights have cherry blossoms etched on them.
Continuing -- Next is the window that looks out onto our neighbor's beautiful brick wall. We decided it was safe to put the air conditioner there. Unfortunately, that means that the air conditioner, whilst conditioning, gently blows the gauzy curtains around. After 2 hours of watching cat after cat zip out from under the bed to attack the offending curtain - they were banned from the room.
And now the bed.
On the left side of the bed, which is Greg's side, we have a charger station that we got on clearance. On the right side of the bed, we have the sexy new alarm: A particular CD alarm clock has been with me for as long as I can remember. It has two alarms. It can play cds. It is amazing. Aside from my computer, it is the only stereo system I ever owned. But Greg has had some complaints about it over the years. He claims that sometimes, the alarm does not go off. Sometimes, after he sets the alarm, it will turn the alarm off by itself. And sometimes, during the day when he's sitting in silence, he can hear the beep beep BEEP BEEP of its increasingly urgent siren-song of GET UP NOW. So I went searching for - and found - the PERFECT alarm system for us. And yes, it is sexy.
I thought they were absolutely adorable, so I had to try my hand at them. In this post I'd like to share with you the journey I took, tweaking the pattern, trying my hand at different techniques, and learning about lining, embroidery, shaping, appliques, hand stitching, machine stitching, and fabrics.
At first, of course, I thought I was all that. So I decided to drastically tweak the pattern for my very first pair of baby booties. I had seen another pair somewhere on flickr that used a lime green/cream color scheme and I loved it. So I whipped out a pair and used two holographic buttons as closures. Boy did they come out badly.
I knew they didn't look right, and it was the first time I'd ever tried a Blanket stitch. I'm pretty hard on myself when it comes to my crafts, and it was hard for me to even show you those. Surprisingly, it didn't take long for me to try again. I decided one of the major problems was the way I stitched the top and the bottom together - so I decided to do the next one so that you stitch the outside of the top to the outside of the bottom - And I decided to line both the top piece and the bottom piece. Unfortunately, I decided to use a particularly pretty brocade and cotton fabric for the top, and it ended up fraying a bunch while I was trying to hand stitch it.
You can see the fraying around the top edges. Also, because the brocade was unruly, it didn't come out nicely shaped - it was all wonky. These pictures look okay because I stuffed them hard with tissue paper to make them a little more stretched out/normal shaped.
I was disappointed with my work again, but learned that if I'm going to be sewing a brocade fabric, I should either machine stitch it, or I should interface it first. At the time I was still a little wary of my sewing machine, and I hadn't ever interfaced something, so I decided to go back to felt as my fabric.
The next pair I attempted I decided to really buckle down and do everything absolutely perfectly. I heard about a Michael Miller baby bootie contest, and I got really excited. So I first designed a pair of baby booties and then went about doing all the things that needed to be done for them. These are pink felt with hand embroidered watermelon seeds. The bottom rind is made of two shades of green felt, machine stitched together. The bottom of the booties are micro suede with machine stitching. The bottom inside of the booties is lined with super soft fleece. The inside of the booties is lined with watermelon fabric. The bow is pink satin. Almost everything was hand stitched together.
Unfortunately, despite these taking MANY hours to make, they didn't even come close to winning.
Regardless, they're probably my favorites and I'll be holding on to them for possible future baby girls.
While I was making those booties, I decided to do double the work and make a second pair in a slightly different style, so instead of putting the "rind" at the bottom of the booties, I lined the top edge with it and set it up "kimono style".
Encouraged by my success, I decided to try out another design idea I'd been toying with, a bootie made to look like a pea pod. Unfortunately, I didn't line it, and in order to get the effect I wanted I had to alter the Bootie design in such a way that I'm pretty sure these babies would NEVER stay on wiggly toes. It's a good concept, but I am disappointed in the execution.
A friend of mine at work was having a baby girl and I decided to try to make a really girly pair of baby booties as part of her gift. I did pink felt with plenty of lace, lined with felt and cotton (with a butterfly print). I masked any top fraying with a little extra lace and finished it off with a tiny little bow. They are very sweet looking and she was very excited to get them.
Next, because I LOVE rainbows, I decided to do bright blue rainbow baby booties. This time I machine stitched the edges together, and I hand stitched to the top and the bottom of each bootie together. I also hand stitched all of the decoration except for the soles - that is machine stitching.
The only thing I regret with those was not originally cutting the micro suede for the soles a little bit larger. This microsuede was softer and more pliable than the stuff I had used before, and consequently it stretched in funny ways and made the booties' shape a little less regular than I desired. Overall, I'm happy with the way they turned out.
The next pair I tried were based on a lady bug inspiration - I wanted to try to convey little black polka lady bugs. I lined it with a flannel and the bottoms are a very dark brown micro suede.
I wish I had been able to find a real black micro suede before embarking on those - but I couldn't. And now they're adorable and everything, but I think I may leave them as a "One-of-a-kind".
Then I languished in my baby bootie making for a while. I wasn't inspired because the only ones that came out perfect took me weeks to finish. However, my sister-in-law (My husband's brother's wife) is pregnant with her 3rd boy and I hadn't been making baby booties when her other two were born, and she had told me that she admired the booties I made. I got to work making these:
This time I tried to hand embroider on the micro suede sole, but other than that, they were fairly simple. I made an accompanying baby onesy, with little gold wings on the back. They remind me of that Greek God... the messenger dude with the wings on his sandals.
Then, because those were so much fun to make, I decided to start trying again recreationally. I lined this next pair with fleece on the bottom and flannel on the top. The outside fabrics are micro suede and felt. The bears are vintage patches that I found at a Pennsylvania treasure trove of craftiness, and the balloons are also felt. Everything was hand stitched together.
Because THOSE were so much fun to make, I decided to keep going and try my hand a little baby wing tips. I felt like I'd spent a lot of energy making booties that were appropriate for girls or were unisex - I wanted to make a pair that was pretty much all-boy.
That was the first time I'd ever really used a French Knot. It turned out to be pretty easy, and definitely worked. The little bows were made from puff shapes that I got for Christmas - so I'm not exactly sure of their particular company origin, but I didn't make them myself, i just scrunched them in the middle to make them look more like bow ties.
Because THOSE were successful, and I really loved using the puff shapes and I have a bunch of trim floating around that I don't use enough of - I decided to go for a Dutch baby look with Heart trim and Heart puffs. The embroidery stitch I used on the bottom was a little more complex than the blanket stitch and I basically just did what looked right and then repeated it a million times along the bottom:
I don't think I'll ever be able to part with those, but I have a few more puff hearts so I will probably be making another pair.
I loved using applique's and patches so much, that I decided to do a polka dot version. Here's a rare in process photo:
They turned out a bit more "royal" looking than I intended... probably something to do with the purple and the gold. My husband really likes them.
I used Gold embroidery thread to stitch on the patches and I used a blue embroidery thread to stitch the edges. The top edge of the bootie has gold ric rac and a crazy purple ribbon trim.
The next (and most recent/last) pair I tried, I decided to use these little metal studs, and woven ric rac, and patches, and a pink and green color scheme (similar to the watermelon booties). I decided that rather than making them identical, I would go for abstract. I'm still not quite sure how I feel about them.
In the spirit of having a new camera, and therefore taking all the photos I've always wanted to take... I've decided to embark on yet another journey with you. I will lead you through our Living room renovations. Let me preface this with the following:
This is my first house, and I don't yet have kids. That means I can be as crazy as I want to be without the crazy rubbing off on spawn of mine. (One of) My type(s) of crazy translates into trying vastly different color schemes in each room of the house that we re-do. So far our bathroom is PURPLE (really. In caps.), my craft room is turquoise with red, my dining room is dark teal, my foyer/hall is on its way to being a burnt red, and my living room is Apple Green (or that's what the paint says). As with every room we redo, I start out with a pretty clear gut-feeling vision of what I want. At some point, about half way through, when the dust has coated everything I own, and the paint is half way up... I crack and start to seriously doubt what I'm doing. I start to convince myself that it's probably going to look really, really dumb. What was I thinking? Purple? For a bathroom? Green? BRIGHT Green? What?
But I have to be honest with you -- And shhh, don't tell the other rooms --- but the green living room is definitely my favorite. It's cozy and inviting and I LOVE it. I can only hope that somehow the magic will repeat itself when we move and I want to do the same thing to our next living room.
Let the Journey Begin:
This is our how our living room looked before we moved in:
Mrs. Blur-face is our Realtor. She was very kind and very helpful. She was barely phased by the fact that we were so young and we wanted to buy a house for cheap.
That window there looks out of the front of the house over the front porch and out at the street.
The shelves you see were partially built in to the space, but mostly (to fasten them in place?) they were painted to the wall. The carpet was the same dark green icky carpet that covered the whole first floor and the living room had a total of 2 outlets - one in the wall behind the table you see in the above picture, and one nearby it in the floor. Oh, and yes. That's a drop ceiling - Dentist office style.
The first thing we did upon moving in was the floor, if you want a better look at how that went check out my post about my dining room renovation. After ripping up carpet and evil looking nails and staples, we laid down Luann and I am proud to say that I (pretty much single handedly!) screwed in the Luann to the ENTIRE living room floor. Everyone else was occupied elsewhere, so I busied myself with a drill and had a grand old time!
The thing that got in our way, almost immediately, were the "built in shelves". We tore those out in order to do the floor completely. I'm glad we did take them out because they weren't really even and they definitely weren't well supported.
In this photo you can see where we patched the walls where the built in shelves had been and you can see the blue in the bottom left hand corner of the picture. Before you lay laminate flooring, you must lay this squishy stuff down..... I guess it makes the laminate flooring more comfortable?
At this point, we had a bunch of lovely gift certificates for various stores from our wedding, and after having laid down the laminate floor we ventured out in the world to feather our nest.
It turns out that nest feathers are expensive, and so we ended up being able to afford a new rug and a new love seat cover and that's it - I couldn't believe how expensive rugs and seat covers are. Regardless of the expense, those two things helped this room to be more homey to us and it was worth it. I'll lead you through our living room. Every once in a while I'm going to show you a photo and then - because I'm a little obsessed with flickr's picnik photo editor - I'll use the same photo to highlight key points.
Now... With Labels:
If this repetition of photos gets annoying, just let me know - seriously. It's okay? Alright, good. I probably wouldn't have stopped anyway.
Okay, I won't label that one.... except to say that that Green glass is the very beginning of our collection - and that shop vac was probably the very best house warming gift... EVER.
Now you can really see the scars where we patched the wall from the "built in" shelves.
I guess this photo doesn't really need labels either... just a solid "Gilmore Girls Rocks!", and I think we can move along...
Our next step was to really settle in. We got matching lamps (a donation from my parents) and a brand new curtain. We used a bookshelf my father had made me when I was a child for our VHS movies. We found a second endtable in a thrift store... they're different heights, but it was okay.
Our white cat, eevee, is probably hiding under that chair in this photo.
Ironically, we were playing a game of Settlers when this photo was taken.
This photo shows a second tiny hutch that we rescued from a thrift store... and it shows the thing I made for the fire place (which I'll show you later).
We also kept the computer in the Living room for a very long time. For a while it happily resided in its own corner... and then our love seats started dividing exponentially. My parents gave us the one you saw us put our new love seat cover on, then Greg had an old one from college. Then the parents of a friend of ours from college who live in Pittsburgh gave us another old love seat, so we had three love seats residing in our living room. Three love seats and no couches. Let me tell you what a good approximation of torture is: Provide a room with great entertainment, and lots of seating that's long enough for you to lay down all scrunched up, but never to stretch out. That's torture, my friends.
Then one magical day, we were browsing a near by Goodwill and Greg fell head over heels in love. With an Ethan Allen Couch and Love seat. While we're both appalled at the idea of these babies being donated to a thrift store because someone didn't care about them, I would rather imagine the scenario as follows: Someone cared treMENdously about these soft, barely worn leather couches. They cared SO much about them and had such good memories with them, that they needed to pass that good karma onto someone else. We just happen to be those lucky people. We moved one of the loveseats up to our bedroom and two into what (at some point) became my craft room. We now had 4 loveseats and one couch in a two bedroom house. Eventually we got rid of one of them, but we still have 1 in our bedroom, 1 in my craftroom, and the good-karma set that we bought from Goodwill.
And now with labels!
That was fun, wasn't it?
Here's a different view:
After this photo was taken, we did two things: we made the most expensive purchase for our house yet - Ikea shelving for either side of the fireplace, AND Greg tiled in front of the fireplace. There had not been tile there before (or at least if there was it was covered with 18 layers of paint, some tar, and some liquid evil, so we decided to leave it alone). We got the tile from a local Pittsburgh place called Construction Junction. Since we've moved here they've really notched up their organization and their website, so feel free to go take a look. They stock this giant warehouse with all manner of used and unused construction supplies from toilets to windows to doors to random things like diner booths, glass store displays, church pews, and stair cases. It's a treasure trove, and whether or not you're looking for anything specific, it's always fun to browse. Greg and I had quite the experience there in a terrential downpour while trying to get a 30 inch kitchen cabinet into a 28 inch space. Incase you're not good with the numbers, that just doesn't work and we ended up getting very wet and giving our car a nice soaking as well. Construction junction is also where we found out that the possibly-badly-stained tile that we had been uncovering on our fireplace is actually vintage tile. We came across a couple of boxes of tile that looked almost identicle to what we have and it was priced at $3 a tile. That was the first time we had heard of vintage tile... so we decided to keep it as is.
From the Dining room door way:
The next step was finishing the ceiling by spackling, sanding and painting.
*note* You may notice that the fan light is in pictures before this point - it went up slightly before we embarked on finishing the ceiling.
First, we moved everything out (with help from the in-laws):
And then Delilah and I were tired.
When we moved in, this room had a drop ceiling. The drop ceiling was one of the first things to go. The actual plaster ceiling is delightfully high and I much preferred a crack-ridden plaster ceiling to a perfectly aligned drop ceiling. One of the problems with the plaster ceiling was that it had big chunks out of it in a particular formation that indicated it had once (but no longer) had ceiling lights. We DEFINITELY wanted to put in a fan light, so we began work rewiring and patching the ceiling:
The ceiling needed a lot of work, but it was worth it:
We did find, while we were rewiring, that above where we wanted to install this central fixture was the end of a gas pipe. Our house definitely used to have all gas fixtures. About 2 months prior to re-doing the ceiling here, we had a series of gas leaks. Greg would come home from work, I'd be sitting on the couch with a bad headache and he'd say "Gee, it really smells like gas in here. I'm calling the home warranty people". I'd say "I have a headache."
There were a few very cold winter nights without heat, and eventually ( I think after the 6th leak) the gas-leak-fixer-guy that they sent out decided to put an end to the madness by recommending a complete system replacement. He wanted to sever all the lines to the house and install one line that would go out to all of the appliances in our house that use it. It would also be easy for us to install future lines out to things like an outdoor grill if we wanted. We were thrilled. The home warranty company was not. But the repair happened anyway. As it turns out, there were live gas lines running to every floor of the house through the walls. A lot of them were leaky. Great. By the time we got to install this light fixture it was a relief knowing that there was DEFINITELY no gas supply running to it.
We selected paint from Lowes. We settled on an apple green color for the room, and (not really knowing what I was doing) I selected a "Chocolate" Brown for the walls on either side of the fireplace:
When we moved all of our stuff back in, it looked like this:
And, our slow growing glass collection brought to you by TJ Maxx and local Thrift stores:
Our Fireplace languished at 80% refinished for a LONG time. I spent an entire 8 hour period carefully scraping paint out of ONE of the wooden scrolls and then I spent about 4 days in pain paying for my dedication. Then I carefully ignored the project for a long time. We had plenty of excuses. In November of this year we decided that for Christmas we would DEFINITELY finish the mantle. It took my husband about One week of solid nightly dedication. Hopefully we kept the place well-ventilated, but I think both Greg and I were a little loopy that week from all the stripping chemicals. Here's how it turned out:
It came out a touch shinier than I might have wanted, but overall - very much what I wanted.
Now, as for that thing inside the fireplace... This fireplace is unusable. Apparently it would suck up many thousands of dollars in repair costs before we could light a fire in there so very early on we were resigned to the fact that we wouldn't be roasting marshmallows indoors or anything.
Also very early on in the timeline of our lives in Pittsburgh, I became somewhat romantically despondant about being so far from friends and family. One of my favorite childhood books was "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" and the last line of the book has to do with - the path to the kingdom may be long and far, but if you find your way there you will find welcome within. I loved that sentiment, and in the hopes that more of our friends and family would find their way to us to visit, I did this little fireplace tealight holder.
Greg took leftover laminate flooring and some luann and constructed a staired tealight holder. It's not as stable as a chair, but it does its job. Then I went to work with copper wire. I did 4 scenes - The very bottom is merely decorative. The next up is the sun on the left on the moon on the right. The next up is the salamander at the center of the earth in the story talking to the heroine. The next up is the north wind carrying the heroine to the city. And on the very top level I did a teensy tiny itty bitty city on a hill.
Here's a close up:
After finishing the mantle, we moved everything back to where it was supposed to be and we decorated for Christmas!!! Here are the results:
(I dyed these with coffee to match each other when lit)
In honor of being chosen (twice! squee!) for Best of Craftster 2008,I have decided to finally write out our adventures in remodeling for yet another room in our house.
The Dining room.
This is serious stuff here people, so go take the dog out, get yourself a beverage, kick back and enjoy the schadenfreude.
This room was supposed to be easy. When we moved in, there did not seem to be too much wrong with it. I think I was just comparing it to the rest of the house because, comparatively, it was great! In actuality, it definitely needed work... possibly it needed less work than the bathroom or living room.... but work, nevertheless.
Here's what it looked like when we first viewed the house:
Recently I read that when you purchase a house or apartment, you should not rely on immediately moving into said property. Things can go wrong, people can be jerks. Greg and I had no idea about any of that, so naturally we planned everything so that it all had to go perfectly in order to move in. First, on a visit to Greg's parents we left our car with them, and we borrowed theirs because our car is a stick shift and I can't drive stick. We drove back to my parent's house in New Jersey. The next week we rented a moving truck, loaded it up, and Greg drove the truck while I drove his Mom's car all the way back to Greg's Parent's house. We loaded the rest of his stuff into the Moving Truck, swapped our cars again, and we left the moving truck with Greg's Parents. We drove out super early the next morning to Pittsburgh to close on the house and "Move In". It all went smoothly. I think I even lightened the serious mood when I brought my goldfish in with me (I couldn't leave them in the car... it was hot out there.)
We then drove directly to our new house. Greg carried me over the thresh hold, the previous owners had cleaned out pretty much 100% of their belongings (I say "pretty much" because of the clown face stained glass sun catcher they left... and the "Toys R Us" sticker on the bathroom mirror. ) And we found a bottle of Champagne in the Fridge. We ordered way too much Chinese food and sat on the floor and spent the first night in our house. It was awesome.
The next morning we got up bright and early to start doing this:
One of the delightful things that was bequeathed to us in this house were rooms carpeted in a dark green carpet. It was obviously old, and obviously dirty, and had probably never been cleaned (or so I freaked myself into believing). We had plans to get it all out of there before the moving truck arrived so that we could put in Laminate flooring right off the bat!
That's what we found underneath the carpet. Soft wood floor. Of COURSE it couldn't have been hardwood.
And how obvious is it that on that far wall someone did a really shitty job of patching up a fireplace? Nice, huh? Well, there were a few problems with that tile at the far wall. Namely, it would disrupt the flatness of our floor and the laminate needs an extremely flat surface or it will buckle.
So, Greg got out his hammer and his Safety Goggles (which look like Mirrored sunglasses and he got them that way because they were "cool", and now he doesn't wear them because he "Can't really see in them indoors" BECAUSE THEY'RE SUNGLASSES!!!!!), and he smashed the green tile into itty bitty bits. Right around this time, Greg's family showed up with our moving truck and we started to unload our belongings (in the rain). Greg then poured concrete over where the tile had been (Have I mentioned that he worked with a Masonry Company over a few summers? Hot, and useful!), and let it set.
Yes, Now it permanently says "I heart Meg" under our dining room floor.
Then we started laying and screwing down the Luann (I'm not sure if that spelling is right, but it's pronounced LOU - Ahn) which is the subflooring for the Laminate floor.
We intended to lay laminate flooring throughout almost the entire first floor (The kitchen was the exception) so it took a while to rip up all the carpet and staples, lay down all the luann, and then even begin to contemplate laying the laminate flooring. With Greg's parent's help, we were able to lay down the dining room flooring and half of the living room flooring. Unfortunately, they began to lay the flooring in the worst possible corner (mathematically) and therefore had a horrible time making all of the rooms match up perfectly (Probably took three times as long). In the end, it came out beautifully.
After they left, we still had an ENORMOUS box sitting on the floor containing our brand new electric piano - a spectacularly generous wedding gift from my parents, so we decided to open it up. This piano is the approximate size and weight of a baby grand. It was not a wise idea to attempt this with just the two of us, and at one point I ran outside yelling for a neighbor, ANY neightbor. I ambushed a woman watering her garden and begged for her help. I think she thought I was a nutcase, and I am confident in that interpretation because she has avoided us ever since. However, she did come in, assist us with living the piano from it's vertical box to it's rightful position, and then she fled.
Bless her heart.
At this point, the progress of our Dining room paused for a while. We had no table for a long time. Eventually, my mom offered me an old table that they had in their attic. The only thing about it that I didn't like was that it had ugly metal legs, but it was a free table and I was not going to be picky.
We formed a plan wherein we'd throw ourselves at the feet of Greg's grandfather and beg him to make us wooden table legs. It may SOUND like a lame plan... but it totally worked. (THANK YOU!!!!)
Then, we lived with this for about a year and a half. We finished our living room before we finished our dining room, so the presentability of the dining room plummeted before we decided to attack it as our next project.
This next photo is of a project in and of itself. I saw shelving by West Elm at Pottery Barn for over $300. It was too expensive for us to buy, but I loved the concept of random geometric shelving. I almost immediately got to work sketching out a design. I had Greg measure the wall and we decided how big we wanted the units to be. I sketched it on to graph paper, and labeled all the measurements properly. Greg purchased the wood and began to make the cuts. Originally he began to put it together with nails, but eventually moved on to tiny screws. I designed it to flow into one another... and it works, except for the fact that Greg accidentally installed the hanging hardware wrongly and now one of them is upside down. I think it looks fine anyway. We painted them black ourselves. All in all, I think the total $$$ cost for supplies was approximately $60.
My main bone was this:
The dining room had a drop ceiling. The living room had had a drop ceiling as well, but behind the drop ceiling was a plaster ceiling that just needed some TLC. Behind the Dining room drop ceiling, we found this:
Leftover knob and tube wiring (Don't feel too relieved by the "Left over" part. The entire house was still wired this way when we moved in. We rewired the entire house... this stuff was just left over in the ceiling), vents and OH! The floor above us! No ceiling to speak of.
So we moved everything out:
And we took down the drop ceiling and gained about 8-10 inches of ceiling height.
We found out that we were destined for extreme patching because the people who put up the drop ceiling decided to literally hammer into the walls to figure out where the studs were. Delightful.
Then we had to run wires for the various ceiling lights we were going to put in. We decided on 8 recessed lights and 1 chandelier.
For some reason, we took no photos of the whole "putting up the new ceiling" process. Allow me to assure you it was difficult, and trying. We needed four people to steady huge pieces of drywall, and after several hours, we finally got it all up. One of the trickiest parts was making sure the drywall pieces were cut perfectly before even putting it up to the ceiling to test it. In addition to matching all the other drywall pieces, it also needed to have holes cut where the recessed lighting was to be. We finished all of that (Taking the drop ceiling down, putting a new ceiling up) in ONE weekend.
Our next step was to install the lighting, spackle EVERYTHING, sand EVERYTHING, and then paint.
I guess the spackle and sanding isn't all that exciting either because I don't have photos of that. Take my word for it, it was intensive and very very dusty.
I knew already that I wanted to paint the room a dark teal. I didn't know exactly which paint color for a long time, but the guessing was taken out of the decision when we went to Ikea one day, and one of their sample rooms was painted the exact color I wanted. It was fate. Fate happened to dictate that it be Benjamin Moore, Slate Teal... and Fate doesn't really have a whole lot of respect for money-conservation... but Fate must be satisfied, so Slate Teal it was.
All that was left was installing the quarter round, painting the trim, and cleaning up! We moved all the furniture back in (after a good dusting). We put some lighting in our corner cabinet and installed the chandelier. And now, without further adieu, I present our Dining room accompanied by Christmas.
I've posted epic transformations of whole rooms up until this point... I thought I should start to post some of my more tame crafts.
Here is a wreath that I just finished for Christmas. I am going to hang it above the fireplace in my craft room for the holiday season and I am considering making another smaller one to hang in the window.
This tore up my fingers. The materials are bunches of imitation grapes, a few sphere ornaments, floral wire, and one fake wreath.
First I strongly compressed the wreath into itself so nothing was sticking out haphazardly. Then I wrapped it in green floral wire to hold the "branches" down. Then I spent hours shoving singular "grape" by "grape" into the wreath and twisting it up to anchor it on the back.
I would be able to say I didn't use any glue if I hadn't, at the eleventh hour of my project, gotten fed up with one of the silver ornaments that kept falling off.
All except for 3 of the larger ornaments are wired in to the wreath.
I hope you enjoy photos of my floor-length patchwork skirt. This took me at least 5 months to make. There are 10 tiers of 4x4 inch square patches. Each successive tier is 1.5 times as long as the next one. The bottom one I ruffled a little bit more than the previous tiers and has a total of 520 squares. The waist is a "drawstring" where the "string" is a 1.5 inch belt that can be pulled tight around ANY size waist up to 50 inches.
These photos are NOT me. These are photos of a good friend of mine who volunteered to model this skirt for me. Isn't she sooo preeetty?
The order of the colors is as follows:
Waist: White Tier 1: Lilac Tier 2: Purple Tier 3: Pink Tier 4: Orange Tier 5: Yellow Tier 6: Light Green Tier 7: Dark Green Tier 8: Light Blue Tier 9: Dark Blue Tier 10: Blue-Green
I cut out ALL of the squares first. Then I (machine) straight stitched all of the individual rows together. Then I ruffled all of the rows. Then I sewed each row to the next. Then I straight stitched vertically to sew the skirt into a circle. Then I added the waist, and sewed the waist belt/draw string.
I won't go into details, but I was showing some people this skirt and their first reaction was to ridicule it. It hurt very much, and I've felt bittersweet about my accomplishment ever since. This is the first skirt I've ever made from scratch. I have decorated skirts before and created built-in petticoats, but this is different and I was so proud of this until it was mocked by people I love. I'm not sure how I feel about it now. I'm torn between pride, awe at what I did, and shame because - was it worth it? Is it actually as cool as I thought it was? Did I just spend an inordinate amount of time on something completely impracticle? *sigh*
I post these photos as a declaration that I worked hard and finished something intricate. I believe it to be beautiful and I am proud.
Thank you for looking. I really appreciate it.
It's hard to express to you all, the uplifting yet heavy sort of joy I've been experiencing as you have come here to comment. It's been a heady sort of wonder.
I still feel the sting of the criticism. I am not the type of person to sit there and allow someone to speak cruel or undeserved criticism to someone - let alone allow someone to do so to myself, without giving some sort of snarky or sassy response. But I did just sit there. And I find it hard to forgive myself, and I find it hard to feel at ease with these people. I am beginning to let it go.
I have found your responses (and I have read ALL of them and will continue to do so) overwhelmingly kind and touching. This thread has been both encouraging and bolstering. I feel surrounded by hundreds of kindred spirits in a crafty sisterhood. I am inspired to do more work of this nature and will be posting new topics on new skirts in the near future - I promise.
I wish I could give every single one of you a hug - as you have done the same, emotionally, for me.
Thank you. And I wish you all Deliriously Happy Crafting.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT'S ON CRAFTZINE!!!!
I think I will eventually include a time line of every room in my house - Living room to come next - But this, my friends, is my bathroom.
I will explain along with the pictures but let me preface this with it was MAJOR work. We had help from family and friends, but my husband did the vast majority of the work. I designed the floor plan and made a lot of the decisions, but my husband was the muscle. Now - If you'll join me, I'll take you for a ride on the squirrelly path that is the makeover of our bathroom. I apologize in advance for the length of this post - thanks for checking this out!
BEFORE WE MOVED IN: We had to move for my husband's graduate school but we did not have a lot of time to look at houses. This house was the last one we looked at on the only weekend we could go to Pittsburgh to look. Here is the bathroom as it looked then:
This is the only bathroom in the house aside from a particularly intimidating version of the "Pittsburgh Basement Toilet".
As you can see it's a Tiny little bathroom. It's charming accouterments included an outlet by the tub, no shower head, no tiling, carpeting, a Toys R Us sticker on the mirror, and a wallpaper border positioned at 3 different heights around the bathroom.
That wall around the Tub? Normal Painted drywall.
Check out these electrical outlets! Yummy right? Just makes you want to lick them!
Jokes aside, this bathroom needed some loving, but we lived with it for a year. Here is what we did to make it liveable - FOR A YEAR:
Yes, those are shower curtains taped to the wall with good old gorilla tape. Gorgeous yes? We ripped up the carpet, and put down a little bathroom rug.
Oh, Did I perhaps mention that we were also running all new wires for those yummy looking burnt-to-a-crisp outlets? Did I throw in the fact that my husband accidentally cut a line that ran to all existing power on the second floor including the bathroom and our bedroom? Yea.
So we kept a standing lamp in the bathroom so that we could bathe in the light. My parents also gave us an old hanging cabinet for toiletries so we finally had a little storage area.
The second floor Hallway looked like THIS before we moved our stuff in:
And it looked like this after we moved our stuff in:
The fast difference is that I personally tore out this makeshift closet that was in the hall. It was infront of a door to what we assume used to be considered either a closet with it's own door or perhaps a nursery. You can see the door to our bedroom closet behind the painting in that second photo.
Here comes the first real twist in our story. Approximately one year after we moved in, my birthday was fast approaching and my husband started acting funny. I'm annoyingly good at sniffing out surprises, so I found out that my Mom and Brother were coming to visit, which was cool! And also his grandparents were going to "stop by". His grandparents live 4 hours away. Would anyone have bought the "They're going to stop by" line?
Regardless, my birthday came and my Mom and Brother picked me up from work and took me to some botanical gardens, even though I told them they were closed. And we sat, outside the botanical gardens, doing absolutely nothing for about half an hour. Weird. I was artfully trying to get details out of them about what was going on but my mom would only get giggly and say we couldn't go home yet.
When we finally left and went back to my house, my in-laws, my brother-in-law, his wife, their two boys, and my grand-parent in-laws were all waiting there with my husband. "Surprise!", my brother-in-law said cheerfully, "We're here to demolish your bathroom!"
Boy. What a surprise that was. I was not really all that delighted because their presence involved tearing apart my one and only bathroom and I wasn't prepared. Given the state of the room, I had already sort of planned out what I wanted to do - but it was ambitious. It involved moving 3 doorways, removing part of a load-bearing wall, and completely re-doing a room starting with removing everything down to the studs.
It's not that I didn't trust this crowd - My in-laws are very good with the construction, hands-on, do-it-yourself remodeling. They own a lumber mill. They built their own mountain cabin themselves, from scratch. They're all pretty nifty. But coming into my house with NO warning, they were going to tear out the only place I had to go to the bathroom?
Yea. I had a nervous breakdown.
This photo is from the view point of walking up the flight of stairs from the first to the second floor:
This photo is looking in towards where the tub is.
They tore out all of the central walls, and tore down the original bathroom door and the odd door into our closet. Basically the idea was to punch out the bathroom space into the hallway and move (slightly) where our bedroom and future craft room doors were. This plan doubles the space of our bathroom.
This photo is looking into the area of the future craft room:
This photo is from the inside of the bathroom, looking at the closed door and where the vanity mirror used to be on the wall. This was taken after they had framed out most of the walls that had been torn out.
This is a photo of me feeling overwhelmed by the end of an era, while my father-in-law looks on.
Where did we shower you ask? Our basement has a pipe that comes out of a cement wall that is a weak imitation of a shower. There are 2 walls, but overall it's pretty open to the rest of the basement. So, while you're showering you can admire the washer and dryer, the power tools, a whole manner of saws, spiders, cobwebs, and the white stuff on the walls that (although I sprayed the crap out of it with bleach and tilex) I swear winked at me at least once.
It's the type of place in which you barely feel comfortable wearing open toed shoes, let alone shower flip flops.
Onwards and upwards! The next step was literally upwards -- My husband ran all of the electric for lights and he ran lines up to the attic for later use. We decided not to tear down the weird ceiling, just to punch holes in it for the lights and put up a new drywall ceiling about 2 inches below it.
Our second Mini-Story involves a little chirping that we heard for days before my husband would agree with me that it was not coming from the roof but rather from the ceiling. We went up to the attic and heard it in the floor, so my husband got out his power tools and cut a hole in the attic floor and (BY WHISTLING AT IT!!!) eventually coaxed out this little guy, who'd been hanging out next to one of the canned lights.
We did not touch him with our flesh - only gloved hands. We put him in a box with some water and some bread and I spent about 2 hours calling every single animal shelter, aviary, and bird sanctuary in the Pittsburgh Area. Let me tell you that on a Saturday Night there is NO ONE who is willing to take a baby bird.
We kept him warm for the night (in our house, protected from our cats in a separate room), but apparently when my husband got up in the morning early, to take him to a shelter, he had already chirped his last chirp. By the time I was awake, my sweet husband had buried him in the backyard and marked his grave with a little painted stone.
Rest in peace little man.
Here is a picture of my dear husband:
Speaking of Greg - That's his name, Greg - Greg was just getting ready to put up drywall and green board to continue our bathroom project when we took another minor detour from our agenda.
There he is. Getting ready to do something stupid.
He was home alone for a day - I was at work - and he had pre-loaded a masonry screw onto his drill. He put the drill down on the sink counter, and turned around to pick up the green board that he was about to screw into place. Something - maybe his elbow - knocked into his drill as he turned and he knocked the drill off the sink and reflexively reached out with his leg to break the drill's fall.
Suffice to say that this:
Went into his leg. All the way. It entered into the back of his leg, just missing bone by 1/4 of an inch. It also just missed his achilles tendon. He's a lucky, lucky man.
To make a long story short(er), I got him to the hospital, they gave him a tetanus shot, some morphine, some benedryl for his allergic reaction to the morphine, some more morphine... and then they tried to unscrew the screw from his leg with a screw driver. I'm not. Even. Kidding.
After they DID get it out (WITH PLIERS) they sent him home with strict instructions to keep off of it for a while, which was hard for him. But I basically tied him down to the couch after I found him perched on the edge of the bathtub trying to screw some MORE drywall in, holding his injured leg out behind him. After that he stayed down and healed before he did any more.
When he was finally up and about again, he put up all the drywall.
Next was our first ever vertical surface tiling project. I had acquired these long skinny iridescent tiles and I wanted to do two rows on either side of one row of 4x4 inch white tiles. We basically picked the cheapest white tile we could find and then used the iridescent glass tiles to accent. Here's the process:
Next it was time to patch all the holes in the walls, rip out the old toilet, put down subflooring, and tile the bathroom floor. For the tiles we chose an imitation slate tile. It's EXACTLY what I wanted.
Then, of course, it was time to paint. I selected a bright purple color - This was the first room that we painted and I wanted to be bold.
In this picture you can see the two cubbies that I had my husband build into the wall. These will be right above the sink and will facilitate a little storage area that you have easy access to.
This is a photo of the wall that I wanted to paint a sort of mural onto. Greg and I worked on it together, but I did all the detail work.
All that was left was to add the final touches.
We put in a new sink/vanity. We bought some bookshelves with doors to be our "Linen closet". We painted our old medicine cabinet white and put it back up above the toilet. Greg finished the installation of three canned lights, one specifically for above showers for above the shower, and he also put in two hanging pendants above the sink.
I took several of the extra floor tiles and beat them up with a hammer and then used the pieces to make a mosaic frame for a mirror we found on clearance somewhere.
If you've stuck with me this far - Congratulations, You have reached the end. HERE are the CURRENT and FINAL photos of what my completely remodeled bathroom looks like. Thank you for reading!!!!!
This project began May 12th, 2008 and the most recent photos were taken in Late June. My husband and I did it all ourselves. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them. This is my first post to Craftster!!! Newbie in the house!
HERE IS A MUCH NEEDED BEFORE PICTURE:
These two pics are of the very beginning of the project. It was a blue room with a floral border. Upon taking down the wall paper we found out that the ENTIRE room (including the ceiling) had originally been pepto bismol pink!
These next two pics are post-painting. We painted everything except the trim and then we ripped up the carpet in order to lay down laminate flooring.
This photo is after we put down sub-flooring so that the laminate flooring would be even.
This photo is after we laid the laminate flooring. It came out looking even better than I'd hoped. Also, in the photo, you can see that we have a lot more remodeling than just this room going on.
This set of photos is the preliminary "finished" set. We installed most of the shelving. We assembled the desk. We moved a good number of my crafts into the space.
Then it took about 3 weeks to get all of my crafting supplies into the room, and have them organized into their respective places. We picked up 3 more book shelves and put up 2 more cabinets. I made all the curtains myself. The art on the walls are a collection of prints from various (and talented) Etsy artists.
UPDATE (7-22-08): Wow!!! Everybody is so so pretty for commenting!! Y'all have made my day! I'm incredibly flattered. Thank you!
UPDATE (7-23-08): I feel completely overwhelmed with the response to this post!!! I have (and will continue to) read all of the comments and have loved every single one!!! I would invite you all over for coffee, mario kart, and crafty goodness if I could!!
In response to one comment requesting a recent 'in action' photo, and asking whether or not I am this neat all the time:
I happen to be schizophrenic when it comes to neatness. My bedroom is a disaster area, my craft room a haven. My studio DOES have it's moments of crisis, but all in all it needs to be organized and neat for me to be able to craft without feeling guilty for ignoring the mess.
HERE is a photo that my husband took of me one week ago. While trying to get a good "Crafter's Portrait".... We had a black out!!! So we lit some candles and I got out a bag of goodies I'd just bought from a treasure of a place called "PA Fabric Warehouse". I wound up the trim until the lights came back on.