08 August 2015

Growth Chart

This is going to be really quick because there is a one-year-old trying his best to climb in my lap. That makes it really hard to type.

I made a growth chart! No process pictures (see reference to one-year-old above), but here's the finished product. Yay!

The little white line is his current height! He's, um, almost half my height already. Sheesh!

01 March 2015

The Current State of the Bookcase

Baby = no blogging. Well, more precisely, baby = no home improvements = no blogging. 

I did manage to spend an hour or so this afternoon sprucing up our bookcase. 

Ta da!

And now, back to a baby who really doesn't want to nap today. :) Hope to blog (/get back to home improvements) before another eight months goes by!

29 June 2014

Updates! Bookcase, Window Seat, Small Nursery Updates and the Guest Room

Baby Watch 2014 is ongoing. Silas is now three days late and counting. I have crossed off everything on my Pre-baby To-do List, and everything on the If-I-have-time Pre-baby To-do List, and even everything on the I'm-now-wasting-time Pre-baby To-do List. I know this is a good thing -- we are as prepared as we can be (I hope!) and now just get to wait and have a little down time, but that doesn't make us any less impatient.

In any case, I have a few more updates for you. First up is the office bookcase. Isaac and I designed it and Isaac and his dad built it when they were down in April. It is not finished; it's still currently bare wood and empty, but the structure is there.

We knew we wanted to build in our grandfather clock (it's a family heirloom from Isaac's grandfather) and the two card catalogs (also from Isaac's grandparents). I came up with two designs using Google SketchUp (it's free!). The models have the correct dimensions, so it gave us a good idea of what it would look like in the room.

I made the first one because I was afraid that the three full towers would be too imposing in the room, but once I saw the full room, I actually really liked it.

Then came the building. Isaac's dad snapped the pictures below and edited them into this progression.

And now for what it looks like currently.

The only structural thing missing are the arches. They are still in the plans, but obviously just aesthetic, so not crucial. Also, see the closed-in box below the clock? That will actually be a litter box.

Eventually, that middle handle will be replaces with recessed handles in the baseboard (also not attached).

As I was snapping pictures, I realized I never blogged about the window seat we built. How crazy! This was probably the biggest building project Isaac and I have taken on. It's currently covered in all the books and miscellaneous items that were in the bookcases we had in this room before, so it's not really very pretty, currently. But here it is!

Each of those squares is a door. We are storing all of our movies and TV series inside. Eventually, we will add a long cushion to the top of the seat and curtains to the windows. But first, we have to finish the bookcase so that all those books have a home.

And that's the office progress so far! Still a ways to go (we still have to build the desk!), but much further along than before. Woo!

Ok, two other quick-ish updates. The nursery now has bookcases!

The stain isn't quite dry yet, so I haven't filled them, and we need to anchor them (and the other furniture in the room) to the wall. Also note the fox quilt on the back of the chair.

And the nightstand got a plant and a coaster! The plant was on the Wasting-time To-do List.

And finally, the guest room. We have added art, a new bed and nightstands.

The picture above the bed was actually an oops picture I took last year when I was in Vegas for a conference. I was standing in front of the fountains at the Bellagio trying to take a picture of the strip, and instead of changing the setting I wanted to, I ended up accidentally snapping a picture of the water. But I thought it was pretty!

Oh, and please ignore the un-styled pillows I meant to fix them before I took pictures, but obviously my pregnancy brain took over and I didn't.

The thing leaning up against the wall is a luggage rack. The two water colors were done by Isaac's grandfather.

There are still quite a few things I want to do in here. I'd like to find smaller lamps for the side tables, and I'd like to refinish the hope chest and mirror (below) in a darker color. And the "BURNS" photo prints (from Isaac's sister) needs to actually be hung on the wall. But I'm happy with how it's coming along.

And I think that's all the updates we have for now!

Aaaaand, blogging these updates was officially the last thing on the Wasting-time List. Crap. Now what do I do?

26 June 2014

Fox Quilt (or, My Biggest Nesting Impulse)

At some point, I decided I wanted to make a quilt for Silas. Call it nesting (Isaac sure does), call it creative drive, call it familial obligation -- my grandmother, my mom's mom, was, after all, a master quilt-maker. In any case, I knew I wanted to make a quilt, I knew I wanted it to be a fox (keeping with our accidental theme), I knew I wanted it to be about the size of a throw blanket (bigger than the standard baby blanket and therefore more versatile) and I knew I wanted to design and sew it by hand.

My first step was something my grandmother never would have imagined: I designed the quilt on my computer. I didn't think I wanted to do a pieced quilt, but rather one large pattern. So I looked at hundreds thousands of fox pictures for inspiration (using sources like Pinterest and Etsy and even Google Images) and started designing, taking my favorite parts of the different designs I had seen.

Here are my first four attempts.

None were awful (ok, maybe that bottom right one was pretty awful), but none were quite what I was going for. I ended up setting it aside for a few days. When I came back to it, this was my next attempt.

That's what I was going for! It's not perfect (be prepared to read that a lot), but it was what I was looking for. So I used the unfortunately-named-but-awesome-and-free!-service Rasterbator to blow up my design and print out across multiple sheets of paper.

Then I traced it onto posterboard.

And finally cut out my pattern.

Then I cut each piece out of my material. Marbles "helped".

Then I started sewing together the fox.

While there are many, many things I would do differently (not perfect, remember?), my first major mistake was the nose, shown below. It's rather crooked. Whoops. I fixed it, kind of, but it never ended up looking great.

Below is the completed fox. There are more than a few crooked seams and lines that don't quite line up. Still, I was happy with how it was coming together.

The next step was to put it into the blue fabric. My mom helped me with this step; we pinned the fox onto the fabric where I wanted it.

Then I flipped the whole thing over and traced the outline we created and cut a fox-shaped hole out so I could stitch it in. I debated doing an applique of the fox, but I didn't want to for two reasons: one, I didn't want visible stitches, and two, I had never done applique before.

Below is the completed quilt top, including border. You can tell it doesn't lay flat -- again, it is far, far from perfect. And the border was my second big mistake; I added the border without taking into account that the backing I bought (you can see it on the chair on the left below) wouldn't be big enough to accommodate the border. The resulting quilt doesn't have much of a border left, since I had to fit the quilt top to the size of the backing.

At this point, I was so in the zone that I stopped taking pictures. This is a picture-heavy post already, though, so I'm sure you don't mind.

In order to make sure that the backing covered it, I then sewed the top, batting and back together. Imagine it like a big pillow case; I sewed all three layers together almost all the way around, leaving about a foot at one corner that I then used to turn right side out. I then did a ... slip stitch? I don't remember what it's called ... to close up the hole.

My mother pointed out that doing things in this order was bass-ackwards; that you are supposed to first quilt and then finish. Did I mention this project wasn't perfect?

Finally came the decision on how I was to quilt it. Despite what the lack of perfection here might suggest, I have a fair amount of hand sewing experience, but quilting? None. Zilch. I've never even seen it done, by hand or by a machine. I watched several YouTube video tutorials, and while it didn't look too complicated, it still seemed out of my reach. In my research, though, I found a few people who said that large, visible stitches could actually be an aesthetic choice and not a sign of an amateur. And since this quilt wasn't pieced and therefore had a lot of "empty" space, I thought it might actually look ok.

So "aesthetic choice" is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I decided on a series of diagonal lines. I taped them off with painter's tape (I think they make fabric tape for this kind of thing, but the painter's tape was what I had on hand and it worked just fine) and followed along with my thread, attempting to keep my medium-sized stitches even.

Are you ready for the finished product? No? Ok, I'll keep blabbering on, then.

Kidding. Here it is!

Is it perfect? (Do you need me to answer that?) No. Obviously, it's not smooth by any stretch of the imagination; the quilting makes all the flaws quite obvious, as I figured it would.

Am I proud of it anyway? Yes. And I look forward to it getting a lot of use.

Oh, and today is my due date. Whenever you're ready, Silas! There are a lot of people who can't wait to meet you.

15 June 2014

Nursery Pictures!

It's done! Well, like all projects in our home, it's *almost* done. But it's done enough to share pictures! I'll try to keep the commentary to a minimum. Most of the pictures speak for themselves anyway.

Let's start with the most obvious nursery thing: the crib. My parents got us the crib and mattress.

The cute fox blanket is from Isaac's parents. It's so soft!

The cute pillow came from my bestie, Beth (who blogs almost as infrequently as I do these days). Isn't it adorable?

The fox portrait was done by Isaac's dad. I made the tree prints.

It doesn't look like it, but the bamboo blinds block a lot of light, and the curtains are blackout, so we can block out almost all the light in the room if we want. Here you can also see the crown molding. Isaac and my dad originally put it up, and given that it was their first try at the super, super difficult project, I thought it looked good. Isaac was really hard on himself, though, and instead of patching it ourselves, we brought in a contractor to fix it.

I also didn't manage to get a complete picture of the rocker and I am way too pregnant to walk upstairs just to get one, but you can see bits and pieces of it in several of these pictures. It comes from my grandmother's house.

The dresser/changing table here came from Isaac's grandmother's house and was actually his great-grandparents'.

I surprised Isaac with this Calvin & Hobbes print. It's his favorite comic and he has really dear memories of reading them with his father.

Isaac worked so hard on this closet; originally, it had two full-sized double doors that really limited furniture placement in the fairly small room, so we opted for curtains instead. Originally inside was a series of shelves and rods that didn't really have a logical placement that we could see. So Isaac ripped all of it out, patched the crazy one-inch anchor holes (?!!) and painted the interior navy blue to match the curtains on the other side of the room. He then stained and put up a shelf and hanging rod that runs the length of the closet. The dresser is from IKEA, and Isaac also stained and put it together. He also hung the branch curtain tie backs. I put the orange pom-pom trim on the curtains.

To the left of the closet, there's a cute woodland print from my parents, and a print of foxes dressed as the Marx Brothers (another Isaac favorite) from Isaac's sister. All the artwork in here, like almost all of the artwork in our house, is really meaningful.

A close-up of the top of the dresser in the closet. The fox hamper in the middle was a gift from Meagan and Preston -- isn't he so cute? The baskets are from Target and I painted his name on the little chalkboards.

Oh, I haven't mentioned we decided on a name? :) Our son's name will be Silas Christopher.

When picking out a dresser, I said that I really wanted to have one that was high enough off the ground to store shoes, since the room is quite small and doesn't really offer another good shoe-storage solution. I was trying to think long-term for how Silas would use the dresser when he was big enough to need shoes. Like, you know, a year or more down the road. However, Isaac insists that even newborn shoes count, so his one pair of shoes will be stored here. Silly.

And that's it! This is definitely the quickest we've ever gotten a room together. Funny how that happens when there is a very strict time table. There's still a few things to check off the pre-baby to-do list. For example, in here, we've talked about adding two tall bookcases on either side of the crib for extra storage. And I'm working on a little throw blanket quilt. But none of the list is vital, which is really nice. So now we just wait!

15 February 2014

Nursery - Take 2

Well, folks, it's a boy!

We found out a couple weeks ago and we couldn't be more excited (who are we kidding, we would have been excited either way).

Anyway, we finally got down to planning the nursery for real. And here's where I get to eat my words: I've been saying since the beginning that I didn't want a nursery "theme." I think a lot of times, themes don't grow well with children (so Winnie the Pooh might be cute until the child is three or so, but what happens when he starts loving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Then you have to redo everything!).

So I swore I wouldn't do it. And then we decided on the major colors in the room: blue and orange. So I started searching for some artwork in those colors (I figured it was a good place as any to start), and what did I find?

(click for source)

(click for source)
The first print is from Etsy shop SusanWindsor, and the second is actually free artwork from Vintage Printables, which isn't the easiest site to navigate but has a lot of fantastic free art.

Anyway. Orange! and blue! And ... foxes! Both Isaac and I like foxes -- we often call Milano our little arctic fox (we think she looks like one).

So a theme was born. I'm keeping it to a minimum and making sure not to incorporate it in any permanent way (i.e., artwork is easily switched out, but I don't want to paint a fox onto the dresser), but there are, and I counted, five different foxes in the mood board below. Whoops.

So here's our final mood board.

We already have a lot of the pieces; I covered the main furniture in my last post, I found the pillow on clearance in Target a while back, and the curtains were already up on the closet. And we went to IKEA today, so now we have the window curtains, the dresser for the closet (it will sit inside), the hamper, the window and dresser hardware, the tiny art prints and the throw. I ordered the branch tie-backs too, but they are currently back ordered.

So we're ... halfway there? Something like that. We really like how it's coming together, though, and while it's always fun to put together mood boards, I can't wait to share actual pictures with you!

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