It All Got Started…

…when I hung some curtains, well, I suppose, they are sheers. Well, they’re not exactly sheers either… they’re cotton swiss dot… uh… things to hang in a window that prevents everyone driving by from looking in when your daughters are putting on yet another two hour dance show. And now I’m in the throes of moving things all over the house.

The Sheers or Something

But we started with window coverings. And look! It worked! Privacy that doesn’t exclude the pretty, pretty light! Unfortunately, all that nice, filtered, soft light made it obvious the rest of the room needed some work. Or maybe it was all the piles of stuff in the shelf and under and beside the bed that I had managed to ignore before that sent me over the edge.

Old Bed Arrangement

Old Dresser Position

We’ve shifted the girls around a bit in the past few months, to try to align sleeping with room arrangements, one moving into her own room and the baby into a new room and a new bed. It’s been going… uh… it’s been going… hmm. I guess it’s been going. Eventually we want all the girls to be in the same room, but we couldn’t quite wrap our head around how to arrange the beds. with all the windows and doors. So I decided I would try to fit a bed where the dresser was, and move the dresser in front of the window.

Dresser in Window

It was feeling a bit cramped. But I persevered!

And yes, before we go any further, you’re right, there is a significant amount (nearly all of it) of IKEA furniture and other fixin’s in here. Ah… IKEA… we have flipped and flopped with our decisions to add more of their products in our home. I think it will likely always be a mix of their pieces and old vintage flea market finds for us; IKEA is practical, their manufacturing processes are economical, and their environmental practices are a far cry above others, and honestly, you pay the right price for what you’re getting. I find most furniture stores offering similar quality pieces for a significant percentage more and paying all that money for something the kids will only need/use/want for a few years boggles my mind.

Flipped Around

But back to the arrangements, I surprisingly liked putting the beds in front of the window, flipping them with the dresser, the pushing the youngest’s bed closest to the wall. And now it’s obvious the third bed can easily fit!

Different Angle

The Rug

All the past week (I started with a bang, then the schedule overtook us all) making changes in the room, organizing the stack, tossing out things that were beyond broken or were no longer useful, moving furniture from other parts of the house, refinishing some pieces, dusting everything and scrubbing baseboards, packing up small clothing sizes out and bringing in things that fits… there has been a lot of work here, but it’s still not done. I’ll show you more as things settle and plans are made.

One thing that’s absolutely certain? This rug has gotta go! I think I’m going to sell it, but NOT to someone who has small children who enjoy legos. Or beads. Or playmobile… or anything small, plastic or wood, with sharp or pointy edges. Well, not unless they sign a waiver. Stepping across this rug in bare feet is both brave and stupid… and I don’t want to be held liable for someone else’s pain and suffering.

Yeah, it started with the sheers, and now I’m knee deep in the thick of it all over the house. Hopefully I can dig my way back out this week!

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International Knitting :: The Tan House Brook Shawl

As many knitters understand, deciding what knitting to bring along for an extended trip is something that deserves a fair amount of thought. Not only do you need a pattern that is relatively simple (traveling, I’m afraid, isn’t a great time to whip out your heirloom lace knit… well at least not for me), that doesn’t take a large number of skeins (luggage size/weight limits are unmoved by pleas from desperate wool lovers), is rather compact (some passengers on an overly-cramped, international flight might frown upon being occasionally poked by knitting needles), but you also need something that will hold your interest and not be complete before your trip back home is over. In addition, it also behoves one to learn of various airport regulations regarding the allowances or prohibitions of getting knitting needles past security—Charles du Gaulle, for instance, does not permit knitting needles on the plane—so you’ll also need to carefully consider which equipment to take or leave at home or pack in the checked bags as appropriate.

Casting On

Equally important, of course, is the choice of yarn. Because you can not bring your entire stash with you, it is necessary to take some time to consider where you’re going and what you’ll be knitting. I would strongly advise against selecting black, worsted wool for a summer vacation in Greece, or a fluffy glittery angora for your eight hour flight. You might think, as a knitter might, that one can obtain yarn almost anywhere in the world and that a yarn shopping excursion sounds like a wonderful use of down time while on vacation, but the sad truth is that even yarn shop owners like to take a break every now and then. So you may just find yourself standing in front of the singular yarn shop on your beautiful get away island staring at a “gone fishing for August” sign in deep despair. This story may or may not be based on personal experience.

My Own Yarn

Which is how, upon the wise recommendations of my most experienced knitting friends, I found myself winding up my very own hand-spun for a beautiful shawl the day before I flew out. Socks and shawls, they told me, are a knitter’s best friends for long, uninterrupted expanses of travel time, shorter lay-overs, and slowly swaying train rides past fields of golden sunflowers. This was the first time I wound my own yarn for an actual knitting project. I’ve been slowly collecting skeins, eking out a few moments to spin here and there, and the collection has outgrown it’s designated spot. It was just about time to find some way of using what I’ve made. I wish I could tell you more about the fiber—I had it all carefully recorded, the weight, the dye house and colorway, the yardage—but other than the blend (panda roving which is a lovely mix of merino, bamboo, and viscosemy favorite spinning fiber thus far), I’m afraid all other info is lost. I’m hoping the band will pop up as I get the house cleaned up, but for now, it will have to remain a mystery.

On The Med

One of the other bonuses of having such wise and experienced knitting friends, is that a few of them are designers! One of my newer knitting friends, Jennifer Lassonde of Down Cellar Studio, offered up her absolutely lovely Tan House Brook Shawl pattern, which fit all the considerations for the right project perfectly. I waited to cast on until I arrived in Frankfurt, trying my best and utterly failing, to sleep on the flight over in attempts to mitigate the effects of jetlag. And I managed a few rows there as well as the subsequent flight and layover to Athens before arriving in Crete, where I discovered much to my delight, that the hotel room my friend and I were to share, had an absolutely stunning balcony over looking the Mediterranean, perfect for sipping coffee, knitting, and napping!

On The Plane

The Tan House Brook shawl is a lovely, lovely knit, just what I needed for both the trip and my second shawl. Rows of soothing ole’ stockinette to help me recover from nearly 20-some hours of travel, before getting into a perfect little bit of textured stiches, just in time to keep my interest while waiting for the flight to land in Paris. I am sure the passengers next to me are also unknowingly thankful for Jennifer’s pattern, since I managed to leave them in peace instead of asking “are we there yet” the number of times I would have if left unoccupied.

And it was a great companion for our train ride across France and into Germany where we met up with my husband’s relatives for their annual family reunion in his hometown.

 

On The Train

I was hoping that I would finish it while I was away, but unfortunately due to the regulations at Charles du Gaulle, where the belief is that knitting needles are weapons of mass destruction and terror and not the tools of peace and charity, I had to pack it in the checked bag for the flight home. I was a little worried about what I was going to do with all those hours of sitting without some knitting within my hands, but that was before I remembered about the in-flight entertainment system and all the movies I haven’t been able to see in the past two years. But I am hoping to finish it up in the next week or so as I find myself sitting on the sidelines watching a few kids kick a ball back and forth for the next few weekends.

And if you do find yourself so very anxious regarding the sitting on a plane for nine hours without anything to occupy your hands, you may find that a skein of sock yarn and a few bamboo double pointed straights mixed in with all your pens and pencils in the pocket of your purse do not seem to cause any alarm, concern, or the forcible removal of said items from your cold, sweaty-palmed hands. This story may or may not be based on personal experience.

 

 

“Sparklers” for the Fourth

This year, instead of running back to Pennsylvania after school let out at the end of June, we decided to stick around and enjoy our seaside community’s early summer activities. One of the first things we crossed off our list was a friend’s famed 3rd of July party… The 3rd of July, so that everyone could take the 4th to recover. It was brilliant! We enjoyed homemade pizza from their hand-built, backyard wood-fired oven (where I took notes from the oven’s builder to add to my ever-growing list of dreams), and then walked to our local beach to watch the neighbors put on competing fireworks display up and down the coast. With the light breeze and clear sky and beautiful calm low tide and most excellent company… we could not have asked for a nicer day. I am so thankful for the people we have met here.

But before the festivities kicked off, the kids and I decided to make our recent tradition of chocolate covered sprinkled pretzels to bring along to the party. One of the kids decided they looked like sparklers, and so now we have a little family name for our fourth of July treats!

The Set Up

It really is a lovely little craft-like dessert project that all our littles can enjoy helping with. And the best part for me it that it requires no baking, which—as many of my friends and family can attest—is not my strong point.

No Baking Required

The process could not be more simple:
• Melt a few bags of chocolate candy coating (my kids also enjoy the vile vanilla, but maybe they’ll outgrow it) either in the microwave or over a double boiler, taking care to not burn it, which is really the only trick. I find a double boiler a bit more cumbersome for set-up, but easier to control for heat. Inevitably I burn the coating in the microwave, which causes it to seize up and crystalize.
• Pour melted coating into a tall, thin glass
• Dip pretzel rods—I’ve found the rods in buckets have fewer broken pieces than the rods in bags—into coating, placing dipped rods onto parchment or wax paper
• Shake your choice or sprinkles over the still-melted coating
• Let cool, then eat

Foodie Crafting

So easy, I promise!

Add Sparkles

All the kids enjoy the dipping, and with as many kids as we have (and one extra who was here on a play date!), we’re able to make a whole bunch in a short amount of time.

Too Many to Eat

Once we were done with all the dipping, we took the rest of the melted coating and put it in a lidded jar to save for next time. And yeah, if you have the time and patience, it would probably be even better with real chocolate, but I have neither the time, patience, nor equipment for proper tempering. I have made my peace with chocolate candy coating, since we have it only once or twice per year.

TaDaaaa

We brought them to the party in a galvanized bucket filled with rice so they could stand up on their own. We didn’t even get the bucket set down on the table before our sparkers started walking off in little (and big) hands.

What a nice little crafty-type foodie project to start off our summer!

Pickled Kale Salad

This has to be my number one favorite salad at this very moment…

Pickled Kale

…well, actually, for the past  three years worth of moments. We call it the Pickled Kale Salad ’round these parts. It is not for the feint of heart or palate. It’s this recipe here, although at this point, I’m not sure I use the recommended ratios anymore, I just wing it.

Green Green Green

Of course we still use the kale…

Fresh Parmesan

and fresh parmesan.

Dressing

The dressing is incredibly acidic, which is what you need to break down that tough kale into tender little bites of deliciousness. The garlic and hot peppers really stand up to the strong flavor of these greens, so don’t be afraid of

Favorite Salad

I make this with three bunches of kale, or whatever I can grab from our garden. Unlike most green salads I’ve experienced, it actually tastes better the next day, so making a big batch is a huge time saver and gives me a few ready-to-eat meals throughout the week.

Delicious Bite

When I make it for new initiates, I tend to dial down the garlic and chili, but when it’s just the two of us (oh no, the kids don’t go for this one!), I do not tend to hold back.

One Last Look

I just finished up the last bit of this week’s batch tonight, so looks like I’ll have to make another.

The Baby’s Room :: Dressing the Windows

I’m making progress, one slow little baby step at a time, on the littlest one’s room. I’d really like to have it “done” by the end of the week, but the more time I spend in there, the more ideas I come up with, which isn’t helping with the whole let’s get it done mentality.

One of the things I worked on this weekend was dressing up her bare naked windows.

Bare Naked Blinds

How do you feel about window coverings? There were sheers and curtains on nearly every window in each room in the house when I was growing up. And my mom still feels like a window without a curtain is pretty close to a criminal act. But I’ve got to tell you, here in this house, we hate the though of covering any little bit of the view out of ours. It might have something to do with how dark our first house was and how light-starved we felt, or possibly it’s how sometimes we have to pinch ourselves just to make sure that view is real life, or maybe it’s just that I’m too cheap to buy large swaths of fabric that do so very little other than look nice. I do have to admit there are certain windows that needs some sort of privacy covering (bathroom, anybody?), but I still have trouble finding anything I want to put up.

Whatever the reason for our window covering hesitation, we were incredibly thankful that the previous owners had installed room-darkening roller blinds on all the bedroom windows. Our kids go down incredibly early every night (5 pm for the baby and 6.30 for the older kids) and those room darkening shades certainly help in the spring and summer months when there is more light in the evening. I have to tell you, I am not so enamored with the brown/tan/taupe material used to make each one. The good thing is, when they’re down, it’s too dark to see them, and when they’re rolled up, you see only the tiny bit of the topper. But, those few inches really aggravated me.

I had a little idea, and thanks to ebay, a little box arrived in the mail a few days later. I found a sweet lot of delicate white handkerchiefs, which I thought would work nicely laid across the valance (how do you pronounce this… VALance or vaLANCE?) helping me achieving the vintage feel I’m trying to create in the room.

Handkerchiefs

When I opened the box, I caught the faint scent of a delicate perfume. The handkerchiefs themselves were in beautiful condition and the handwork blew me away. Tiny little knots, crocheted lace, hemstitching, embroidered details, super fine fabric; all of it reminiscent of another, more genteel time.

Not So Naked Anymore

I’m happy to report that this idea came together very easily and just as I imagined. The fabric is so airy light it is very nearly transparent.

Little Details

All those beautiful details are even more pronounced when the sunlight filters through and it doesn’t feel like we are blocking any of our spectacular sea view.

Hemstiched

Handkerchief Valance

Beautiful Hand Embroidery

The best thing about this? It is completely no-sew. They are simply folded and tucked into the crevice between the topper and the window frame. And when they get dusty? I can just give them a little tug and throw them into the washing machine.

Beautiful Borders

Such Detail

Crocheted Edge

They cover that rather indelicate brown/taupe/tan valance with just a hint of girliness.

Quite the View

Well, that was pretty easy! Now, onto a few more changes before the week is out!

The Baby’s Room :: The Dresser

A few weeks ago, the baby turned two. I took this as a sign that I really should get moving on finishing her room, you know, before my husband takes it over as his office sometime in the next few months. A few weeks before her birthday, the dresser we bought from IKEA met an untimely and unfortunate death (well, at least the bottom drawer did) which has had a rather devastating waterfall effect on the state of her room. If there’s no place to put the clothes, they stay in baskets, until she decides it’s time to empty said baskets of course. It was time to get things cleaned up.

Enter this lovely.

Naked

A friend of mine has been moving her house around and decided to get rid of a few pieces, this one included.

Dresser Before

The dresser was a tad dusty, the top had a bit of water damage, and needed just a tiny bit of TLC, but otherwise, it was a beautiful piece. So I got out my sander, some paint and wax, and this is what I came up with.

The Dresser

It fits in the corner perfectly, and since the side panel is the view I see from my perch on the rocking chair I decided it need just a little touch of something extra…

Side View

a touch of hand-painted pattern, wiped away and slightly distressed.

Top Corner

I was hoping it would look a bit like old and faded wallpaper. I have to say I’m pretty happy with the result.

Pattern Detail

It was a bit gut-wrenching to go at the pattern with a wet cloth and sand paper, but I went slowly as I built up my courage, and I think the end result was worth the distress.

Dresser Front

The front panels of the dresser seemed to be in pretty good shape, but was feeling a bit rough. I can not believe what a difference 320 grit paper and some dark wax made. I tried the Howard Restore-A-Finish, but I have to say it was the dark wax that made the biggest difference.

Bottom Corner

I painted an undercoat of Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg Blue, touched it up in a few places in with a bit of petroleum wax, then painted a top coat of Annie Sloan’s Provence Blue. A bit of sanding, the pattern painted on top, then a coat of clear wax and a few touches of dark wax to age it ever so slightly.

Dresser Top

The top was sanded down to bare wood, then stained with two different colors of minwax Sedona and Mahogany Red (straight up stain without the poly) with two or three light and buffed coats of dark wax. It’s hard to describe just how much the new top glows.

Booties

And last but not least, the pair of teeny tiny booties I knit for her, which evidently, I have forgotten to write about. You’ll see the sweater in a later post about her room, once I finish up another wall.

Boy I hope I get this room finished up soon!

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Have you visited these awesome sites where I’ve shared this project?  ::  Miss Mustard Seed  ::  The Shabby Creek Cottage  ::  The Handmade Home  ::  Funky Junk Interiors  ::  Finding Silver Pennies  ::  Under the Table and Dreaming  ::  Today’s Creative Blog