sewing projects

Sewing and I have a love-hate relationship. I’ll get into a rhythm where I sew a million projects one after another, and then I won’t look at or even think of a sewing machine for months. Last fall I took an upholstery class, and the last piece to my chair was the box cushion. I tried to do it on my own and struggled to keep it all straight. Sometime in February got so frustrated that I set it aside for a while and moved onto other projects including another upholstery class. Except the sewing machine has still been on the dining room table! 🙂

Lately I’ve been taking a break from house stuff (painting the summer bedroom is still not going well) and it’s too rainy to work much outside. So sewing has picked up again. Here are some projects I have been working on lately:

This cute card holder:

(The button un-attached itself here. I will have to try something different, I think.)

and this cute bag:

as a side note, I just LOVE this fabric. I have had it for a few years now and not known what to do with it. I still have quite a bit left to make something else, too!

Next, I think I’d like to try to make a mini version of this grocery bag alternative.


Recently I decided to figure out how to make our porch look prettier. It’s kind of pathetic looking.

On our last IKEA trip, I bought two huge terracotta pots for only $5 each! I wanted one to be on each side of the front porch and had a vision of painting them yellow to go with the blue/green siding on the house.  Here is how I did it:

  1. Seal the inside of the pot so that the moisture from the dirt and watering it don’t leach through the terracotta and make your paint bubble. I sealed the insides with 3 coats of Thompson’s Water Seal (in the spray paint can). This process took a little while, as I live in a moist climate anyways and had to wait a full day in between each coat.
  2. Once that was done, I painted the outsides with yellow latex interior house paint (Benjamin Moore Sweet Pear).The pots sucked the paint up quickly, and I only put one coat on. We’ll see how that goes. I could always add a second or third coat. You’re supposed to wait a few days (or weeks!) for this to really dry, but I missed that part, had already bought the plants, and decided to move forward.
  3. Next I covered the insides with a few small rocks and broken pieces of brick to help with drainage, then I filled them with leftover dirt from the veggie garden and stuck in a bunch of plants from Home Depot. I have no idea what I’m doing – I just picked some tall, medium and short plants  in colors I thought went together, and will hope for the best.

And in one last bit of back yard news, Johnny cleaned out behind the garage, where we have a few feet of space, to store the siding from the shed and bricks we found under the house:

I think someday we’ll build a little shed to store yard equipment and supplies. And maybe where a composting bin can go?

Here’s the current state of the back yard, with the shed gone and all the shed debris gone, too. I like the blank-slate look:

I think that’s enough for one update!

veggie garden

While I try to figure out what to do with the paint in the summer bedroom, I started another project (overlapping projects, multiple at a time, is my middle name).

A vegetable garden!!!

I saw these braces and was in love:

the M Brace

except I didn’t have $150 for metal braces to start a garden. And of course you can have a raised garden bed without these braces, but after I saw them I knew I had to have them. I know of lots of websites that turn products you can buy into a DIY project, and I knew it could be done with this, too.

Which is where Johnny and his welding skills come in. I’ve welded things before, like a dinosaur made from random things in the garage…

but Johnny’s the one who does it on a daily basis and has real skill. So I printed out some pictures and dimensions for him, and he made me my very own braces!

Which he then painted with green spray paint (my choice – I thought it went well with the cedar planks).

(check out the peonies! they are growing like crazy! I was smart this year and put in the supports early)

Speaking of cedar, it came from the shed demolition. I measured the yard and decided my garden could be 4ft by 8ft. The boards from the shed were only 1 in thick, so we had to double-up the boards. The other cool thing about these boards is that they interlock and are very tight.

On the bottom I laid down some black anti-weed fabric, then Johnny and his dad got 1 yard of dirt ….. for $25! Never having brought a truckload of dirt before, I thought that was a great deal. We put all the pieces of wood in except for one side, and then were able to push the wheel barrow into the garden bed and dump that way. Once it got too full, we put the 4th side of wood in and shoveled it in by hand.

Next up I had to make some sort of barrier to keep pests and neighborhood cats out of my garden bed, and settled on this netting material with a frame made by yours truly.

I’m so happy with it!! This weekend we’ll pick out plants. I’m already thinking of:

  • broccoli
  • beans on a pole
  • carrots
  • onions
  • sweet peppers
  • strawberries
  • peas
  • if we have room, some herbs, too.

mini vacation update…

oh gawd, the yellow is NOT working out. It’s a nice yellow with a hint of green in the daylight, but once it’s evening and the lights turn on, I would swear it is NEON GREEN.


dang it. I think I will go get a gallon of the Benjamin Moore Sweet Pear – that was my first instinct and I should have stuck with it! Hopefully an update about how success it was soon…

On a positive note, I did paint all the trim (except the insides of the window frames, Mr. “I restore cars for a living” needs to put tape on the windows).

Here are some photos so far:

These are all the magazines that were in this room. I told you it was a dumping ground. I love magazines, and then they are something like 25 cents each at the thrift store, I can’t say no! I need to go through them and tear our all the ideas and recipes I like and then donate them again. We have: Real Simple, BH&G, Martha Stewart, House Beautiful, Seattle Magazine, This Old House, National Geographic, and a variety of others. We’re in that issue of Seattle Bride magazine. 😛 (As evidence that I CAN get rid of things, I don’t have a single other wedding magazine, and I used to have TONS (also primarily from the thrift store).

It doesn’t look so bad from this far away. Out that window is our little deck. The walls were maybe primed at some point…but they are really this old version of drywall, with wallpaper over it and then painted multiple times, including a stucco-like finish. fancy. And you can see some holes here and there from when we had insulation blown in. The floor is a variety of nasty colors but overall in good shape.

This is after I patched some cracks and holes on one side of the room. You can see that it’s mostly cracking where the ancient drywall meets another sheet. All the walls and the ceiling had plenty of patching. Someday all the stuff will be torn out and new drywall will be put in, but that’s so far off in the distance I don’t like to think about it.

These were my test samples of the yellow – Lemon Balm by Behr. I was excited.

This is a lamp (1 of 2) that I got at Goodwill and thought would make nice nightstand tables with the yellow. I was still excited.

I now interrupt my vacation room tour to show you a rainstorm that very loudly and quickly came through the area:

This was taken from our little deck, looking out toward the street/West. Check out all the old houses around us! It’s definitely cool to live in a historic district.

Double rainbow, what does it mean?!?! (if you don’t know, do a google search for that phrase). Well you can’t really see the 2nd rainbow very well. Anyways, this is also on the deck, looking toward our garage, probably South/Southeast (and more old houses)

Here’s the yellow (with white trim!) when it still looks nice in the daylight:

Kitty is a fan of any window. It doesn’t look half bad here, but trust me, it does not look good when there’s no natural light and the lights are on. yikes.

We’ll see if I’m overreacting or if I’ll need to repaint. hmmm.

going on vacation…

well we are going on a summer vacation. Where to? Our upstairs.

We do, in fact, have an upstairs. We just don’t use it. We have a curtain at the top of the stairs to try to keep the heat downstairs in the fall, winter and spring, and all the heating vents upstairs are closed. So it’s become more of a huge storage area for still-unpacked boxes, books, crafts, and things we don’t know what to do with.


Well when we bought the house we decided to focus our energy on downstairs. Afterall, it is were the only working bathroom is located and we felt that if we found some sense of accomplishment in making the downstairs livable, it would make us feel less like we were living in a perpetual work zone. And if we’re focusing all our time and money to make the downstairs presentable, it didn’t make sense to spend money and energy heating the upstairs, so we just blocked it off.

In the past year we’ve insulated the house, had drywall put in downstairs, painted the walls and trim, and tried to decorate with furniture, accessories, a tv, etc. We only ever go upstairs to search for something in a box or find a craft project. The walls are cracked and gross, the result of some old version of drywall put on the walls, then covered with multiple layers of wallpaper, painted and in some case had a stucco-like treatment over the top. The windows leak air like you wouldn’t believe (some of them are only storm windows, no interior windows), and I have seen spiders. BIG spiders. And – this is our own doing – it’s become a little overwhelming because of all the stuff – I don’t know about anyone else, but when we have an empty space, shelf, or tabletop, we always end up filling it up. It takes great effort to keep our tabletops and countertops clear. So, to keep our primary living space clutter-free, all the other stuff finds its way upstairs. Each room upstairs as A LOT of junk in them – christmas decorations, furniture, school papers, books, magazines, crafts, boxes of fabric, half-finished projects, you name it, it’s up there.

But, we’ve realized that it’s not so bad up there, especially in the summer. In the summer it finally gets sunny and warm, so the leaking windows aren’t such a big deal. Plus we have this great deck upstairs that faces south, and on sunny days (we average about 226 cloudy days per year, and the bulk of sunny days are in the summer between June – September) you can see Mt. Rainier and it’s just a beautiful sight. Ideally we’d like to take advantage of the space and the view. How can we spend more time up there? The easiest idea that occurred to me was to move our bedroom upstairs. If we had a bedroom upstairs, we’d definitely be there on a daily (or nightly?) basis. In the winter we could move back downstairs and close off the upstairs again.

So then this idea of creating a ‘summer bedroom’ came to be. It’ll be like a vacation, but in our house. It’ll be fun to move our bed and things to this room, to enjoy the different scenery and routine, and then move it back again in the fall, which will feel like a whole new room again, too.

There are 3 rooms plus a foyer/landing area upstairs. Originally we thought of making the back bedroom our summer bedroom since it is pretty much a blank slate and has a bathroom (although it doesn’t work!) But then it hit me that it would be fun to make the room with the deck our summer bedroom. It’s small, bright, reminds me of staying in a (trendy) one-room cabin, and of course has the deck! It’s like summer camp! Last week I moved our “office” (chair, desk, file cabinet) to the upstairs foyer. The original idea was to create a library/office in the room with the deck, but then reality hit us and we knew we’d never need an office area, and we have many great spaces in the house to store books or sit down and read. This space suits the office area much better, and frees up an entire room!

Here are some small attic bedrooms that inspire me:

I love the paneling on the ceilings, and the cheery yellow color.

Again, I love the paneling, and the mixture of the blue, yellow and red. I like the simplicity.

I love the soft blue with white, the rustic feel and the pop of color here. I think these blinds would be easy to do in the windows in our room, too. The paint color is Spring Mint and the white is Light Touch, both by Benjamin Moore.

Here is another color inspiration – I love the green undertones in this yellow. This is Benjamin Moore Sweet Pear

And I’ll let you in on a secret – I already picked out a color and painted the room:

Behr Lemon Balm (don’t look it up online – it doesn’t look like the images AT ALL)

Originally I wanted to go with the Sweet Pear by Benjamin Moore, but it was looking a little too sickly for me once I saw the real paint chip. I picked up some similar paint chips, and I really loved Benjamin Moore Rainforest Dew. After much thought, I went to Home Depot. I considered Martha Stewart’s Artichoke Heart, but then decided it was a little too ‘earthy’ for the summer getaway bedroom I was imagining. Finally I found Lemon Balm, which almost perfectly matched Rainforest Dew, so I didn’t have to worry about looking up a Benjamin Moore code and getting it wrong.

Stay tuned!! I still have to paint the trim, figure out what to do on the ceiling, and paint the floors (?!?!) And the porch door is only a screen door, so we need a real one. And curtains.

another goodwill find

I love Goodwill, and I always find great things there. I like Goodwill because the things I find are unique and I don’t have to worry about seeing it in someone else’s home. You can find high-end things there for cheap. And I don’t have to feel bad about painting or changing a piece, because it’s usually damaged in its current state. The things I tend to look for are books and furniture, sometimes jackets or skirts, fabric, fashion jewelry, and purses.

Anyways, I found this cute gossip chair at Goodwill recently, and gave it a little sprucing up:

Here it is after using wood glue and clamps to put it back together, and a thorough sanding:

(That end table in the back is also from Goodwill – it says “Ethan Allen” on it but I’m not sure if it’s old or not – it sure seems to be. I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet.)

I know you’re wondering what those little yellow things are! They are these:

They help you paint all the way down to the side of your project, whether it’s a flat piece or a table or chair. The holes are there so if you’re working with saw horses, you can zip tie them to the saw horse so you can be sure those little trianlges won’t go anywhere. They’re really durable, I was surprised one leg or another didn’t fall off when I was painting and pressing against the chair with the brush.

These are the kinds of gifts I get nowadays from Johnny 🙂 He got them at Home Depot for around $5 I think for a pack of 10 triangles.

Anyways, here’s the chair after I scrounged up some paint, foam, and fabric I had around the house:

The paint is Martha Stewart Cumulus Cloud in flat (I used it on the ceilings in the day parlor (yellow room) and dining room (purple)). The darker gray is Martha Stewart Zinc, also in flat (bought a quart to paint a mirror frame that I haven’t actually gotten around to doing yet…).  The fabric is something from the home decor section of Joanns I got a while ago to make a pillow.

It turned out very nice and I’m quite happy with it. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it or sell it – I’m getting to the point where I need to start selling things if I want to keep purchasing new stuff and redoing them. It might be a good method of continuing to hone the look I’m going for! For now I’ll keep it, and when the next project comes along I’ll have to decide what will need to go.

shed demo!

This weekend we demo’d the shed/carriage house, the beginning of our (slow) backyard makeover. Things we discovered:

  • the walls had two layers of shiplap boards
  • cedar smells good when it splits
  • we have a carpenter ant problem – a big carpenter ant problem. Thankfully the “Orkin Man” is coming this week.
  • the cedar shingles were still on the roof, under plywood and asphalt roofing
  • we have more than one huge pile of debris – the largest pile is as tall as the garage, and the other is a huge pile of at least 20 full garbage bags
  • our families and friends are amazing and were a great help!
  • cupcakes are amazing
  • we broke a hammer
  • it’s amazing we finished in two days
  • apparently we needed to get a $20 permit to take the shed down. Who knew?? I’m going to have to look into getting one retroactively.

Here are the pictures:

  • first a quick before and after (instant gratification, I know how that is)
  • secondly, there’s a ton of photos, AND a cool video of the building being pushed over!

shed mostly before, without some of the siding and the door. the interior lights were all taken out at this point

the layers of siding…two horizontal layers plus the vertical. Note the wisteria being held up here….it was more of a precaution, since it was building up the shed and holding on there.

Johnny after he got all the shingles and plywood off the roof and was left with old cedar shingles

shed during…this side still had the asphalt shingles, most of the siding on the door side gone

knocking off the cedar shingles from the inside. You can see the other side already had them knocked off. All the blue siding is gone at this point!!

no more cedar shingles!

getting ready to push the whole building over – notice the studs on this side are gone and most of the horizontal boards one the other are gone.

video of the guys pushing the shed over.

after pushing the shed over. the wood on the ground that looks like a deck is the wall, then the roof and the other wall is in the back yard

view inside the roof. It landed perfectly over my pile of bricks! (the only thing inside the shed we didn’t move) You can see the other side of the wall underneath the roof, laying flat.

we discovered A LOT of carpenter ant action….the Okrin Man is coming out this week. We killed them with many bottles of spray and a whole box of bait stuff, so hopefully that helps in the meantime.

squishing carpenter beetles…it was like something out of a horror movie, it was like this moving mound of black…crazy. They just kept coming out of these pieces of wood (they were the base of the frame of the building, like on the ground)

afterwards, all cleaned up with our $15 Ikea benches

the view from the edge of the backyard towards the house. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this view before! It wasn’t possible with the building in the way before! Look how lopsided the laundry room is (behind Johnny)

My wisteria is still there, and I don’t know what exactly we’ll do with it…I would like to keep it, and build it into the pergola, but we’ll see if it flowers this year or not.

That’s it!