Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Eye tricks to define the space

Our new house has the very awkward, large family room.  It's combined with a big bookshelf and desk area that is more of a home office than family room.  It's good to have these things all out in the open so that we can observe each other's computer use and work and play together.  Anyway, I'm getting off topic...
The ceiling is vaulted on the family room half, but it's still a little awkward in terms of space layout.  It's hard to clearly define the large open space.  Let me just jump to pictures. Here's my solution.
Big fuzzy rug to define the space better.

Still a work in progress, but much better.

Looking down to the back entry.  It's actually reasonably tidied up.

Mmm, fuzzy texture.  It's so soft under foot and warms the space up well.
It's feeling more homey now that we have a family room space that we live in.  I love the texture with all the smooth wood and leather couch.  There is officially no eating and no legos on the new carpet!  Is this house tweaking, or just settling in?!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


When Noah declared that he was going to be an Eagle for halloween, I nearly had heart failure.  How would we pull that off??  I'm a fan of costumes that are practical and re-useable.  Stuff like cowboys and builders - grab a good hat and wear jeans with a particular type of shirt.  Then the jeans and shirt will just go into his clothing stash for the rest of winter.  Can't do that with an eagle.
We subsequently were invited to a neighborhood halloween parade and since we've recently moved, we want to make sure we meet neighbors.  And, they are going in costume to a nursing home for school another day.  3 uses convinces me that it's worth some time to put together.  I should be praising God that he wants to be an eagle rather than a monster!  So, I fixed my do-I-have-to attitude and got my crafting on.  
Thanks to this eagle, I had a good bit of guidance to make the costume.  First, I cut out a ton of white and brown feathers.  We bought a brown hooded sweatshirt to base the costume off, and a pair of brown pants to wear it with - this satisfies my need to include the costume in his wardrobe for the rest of winter.  I also got him to behave nicely in the fabric shop with me for me, so that was a bonus.  We bought 1 yard of brown felt, a half yard of white felt, and a quarter yard of yellow felt - a fairly orangey yellow.  I cut out a big bunch of feathers, and while cutting figured out that if I sewed them onto the sweatshirt, I wouldn't be able to keep that in his closet or I would have to rip out all the seams for the feathers.  I'm not sure what the model I looked at did, but she claimed no-sew, so I think she glued her felt feathers onto the sweatshirt.  I ended up cutting a large rectangle for the back, 2 narrower ones for the front and a pair of large triangles for wings.  I sewed layers of feathers onto these rectangles.  I also copied the hood of the sweatshirt in white felt and sewed on the white feathers and beak.  I just used safety pins to attach the parts onto the sweatshirt...  A picture's worth a thousand words, right?!
Eagle in progress, first few rows of feathers attached.

Pile of feathers ready to attach.

Another row done.

My model checking my progress.  I need to get some feathers up by the shoulders yet.

Head assembled. 
 I ended up hand-sewing the top layer of feathers because I didn't want the very obvious line of stitching going across them.  Now that it's done, I realize that it's not likely anyone would see that - my boy moves much too fast, especially when he's excited.  And, he's excited to be an eagle!
Still need to get the front covered up a little better.

I wish that sweatshirt didn't have those white stripes on the sleeves.

Perfect animal from the back, my model was happy to lay down "spread eagle" for me!
Happy costumes for childhood fun.  Next year, mom says she has something that will fit him from my childhood stash.  I think there are more "retro" costumes available on the other side as well.
When do we start the deeper conversations about beliefs around this one?  We'll just keep it light for another year or few.  Those conversations will have to start when scary costumes are asked for.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spraying the gold parts

The screen/storm door hardware was more of the brass look, and it was in poor shape (pitted and rusty).  Brian took a look at the number of pieces, and the price and availablity of replacement parts, and decided it wasn't going to happen.  All the ladies of the blog-world spray paint anything that doesn't look good to them, so we thought it might be worth a shot.  This isn't the first time spraying, but it is the first time at our primary residence...  So far it has held up quite well.
He set up shop out on a pleasant day with an old pizza box and all the parts that he could remove from the door.  He reminded himself a few times to spray quick and light.  Even so, he had to re-do a couple pieces because he was out of practice and got the paint on a little heavy.  Good thing it just takes a little sanding and you can have a re-do easily.  Note to self - take your time and do it right or it will take multiple times as long to re-do it again...
lay out the parts and spray!

heavy masking for those parts you can't remove.

Do you see how pitted and gross that is?  Little paint will take good care of it!
For those parts that weren't removable, we got out some leftover packing paper and old newspaper, propped the door open so it was away from anything that might touch it, and got busy spraying.
Months later, nobody would guess that's how the door got to look like this:
All cleaned up with freshly painted hardware.

I stepped back so you can see most of the little tiny porch. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Updating the family room

The family room was updated/added-on to in the mid '90s.  It's not in bad shape, just a little dated and dirty.  We aren't fans of brass/gold fixtures and there is a serious lack of lighing in this room, so here's a few things we did to make it more our own.

Before: Closet door knob, and you can see the electical in the upper right corner. 
Side by side, the before and after.

After, closet door knob is more pleasant to touch and look at.

New lockset - updated safety and better look.

See the ugly switch?

Much better.

Crisp white electric switches, love it!

Down with the dirty, old, brass ceiling fan.

Yuck, has it been dusted in 20 years?  That's what you get when you buy a granny house.

Assembly problem.

He's getting it up there!

Looking good!

Now there's light and a much more modern fixture.

This room has come a long way from the de-lace pictures.

While we're at it, let's tidy up the entrance light.

The former light was so rusty it was a challenge to take down.  
This is the first round of tweaks and updates that help us live comfortably here.  Nothing big, no demolition or contractors help.  Just a few electrical changes that polish the place up a little.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Decluttering Challenges

As we packed for moving, we pulled out lots of "goodies" that had been "shelved" for a long time.  I had a young helper for most of this packing and guess what he thought of these goodies?  NEW TOYS!  I did manage to fill a few extra garbage bags and sell of a few things on craigslist, but we moved a bunch more things than we would have liked to because of this helper.
He found a few baby toys that he loves, loves, loves and NO, we can't pass it along.
He found some bike parts that he thought would be great fun.
He found some of my old toys - rollerblades, shoes, bike helmet that he wants to grow into (???).

Moral of the story, decluttering is best done when 4 year olds are in bed or otherwise occupied.

While we're on the topic of decluttering, I should mention that a smart phone is actually a brilliant assistant to this task.  You can take a picture of your item and post it directly to craigslist quite quickly.  I used to have to wait until I got my camera pictures downloaded to the computer, then get on the web and get it posted.  That could take me weeks depending upon my motivation.  As you can see from my blogging track record, I'm pretty inconsistent about getting pictures uploaded and documented. :)

Anyone else working on decluttering??  Is it time to give up old toys that haven't been used in years?  Are all preschoolers hoarders?