Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pawing Thru Fabrics

Almost my favorite part of sewing projects is pawing through the fabric collection. Tonight I took this excuse to play with fabric and start putting together the fabrics for the stained glass window coverings. I'm a little short on middle greens, but I have a good collection put together already.Unfortunately, my ¼-inch bias tape has quite gone AWOL. I ordered it and I know I received it, but I spent over a half-hour looking and it is nowhere to be found.

I'm actually NOT planning to start this project this week, but I have started thinking about how to enlarge the flower patterns so the finished panel will be large enough to cover the windows. I may have to go to a shop with a poster-sized printer.

Finally...Roman Shades

We had wonderful rainy weather today, so painting was definitely off the task list. Instead, we turned our attention to indoor tasks.

We finally got the Roman shades hung!! Alleluia!
I was surprised by how crooked that fabric was and I didn't do a good job getting the measurements exactly right. The shades are all about ¼-inch too narrow for the windows. I'm definitely not loving them, but they'll do for now. At least with the cooler weather, the upstairs is habitable again and we're hoping to sleep in this bedroom tonight.

I also managed to work my way mostly through ironing my William Morris fabric binge. (Just one big piece left!) I definitely have to stop buying fabric; I'm sick of ironing it. Time to sew some of it!

Tonight I'm starting to scheme my next set of window coverings. Probably the upstairs bathroom. The curtains up there are really hideous—yellow with pastel polka dots. Uck!

Yesterday, I ordered Jeff's and my textbooks. School starts soon and I've found it is much cheaper to buy the books from online websites (Amazon & Overstock) rather than in the campus bookstore. I know I saved over $100 on my three books! Though, I am still appalled by how expensive the books are. Honestly, is the latest edition, which is selling for $120, so much different from the edition two years ago that is now selling for $15? I was sorely tempted to order the old edition and call it good enough, but I wasn't sure if there would be homework assigned out of the book. In the past, at my old colleges, it rarely was.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Decision Hopefully

Today we decided we really needed to pick a remodel firm; time is passing and we both start school again soon and won't have much spare time. I finally got tired of trying to gather more information about which remodel firm to go with and caved into Jeff's preference, Green Hammer.

I would say the main reason I gave in is because when we mentioned some of our reservations about hiring them, they actually offered us a guarantee that if we don't like their initial design work, they'll refund our first $2500. So, they have $2500 to convince us they'll get it right!

Craftsman Design and Remodel would have cost $6,000 if we had them design our remodel and then didn't have them do the work—and we wouldn't even own the plans to take elsewhere. So, I guess we'll give Green Hammer a try.

There's just too many projects we are hoping can happen before the rains, and we don't want to spend money on repairs and then end up ripping up the repairs next year when we remodel. I'm hoping we can get enough design work done that we can hire out those small bits this fall. Specifically, the roof over the driveway leaks. Probably because when they put on the new composite roof they didn't bother to reroof the back side; it is still an old metal roof. And clearly there is a bad junction between the two.

Also, the front steps leak into the basement. I'm hoping we can put in some less permeable steps up front, maybe concrete steps with a brick veneer, like in the picture.

If Green Hammer manages to send over contracts tomorrow without any stupid errors, we will presumably sign them and write our first check. I really hope this works out....

Friday, August 27, 2010

We Stencilled!

I finally managed to get all the supplies in one place and talked myself into trying stencilling. It was fun! But my experiment did make it clear to me that I need to get some more brushes. We've really only got one brush of each of the different sizes and you can't change colors. You need a separate brush for each color used.

I also tried a more-Arts & Crafts style stencil.

This is how stencils were commonly used in Arts & Crafts homes. I'm hoping to stencil around the parlor and most of the bedrooms. And I'm hoping to stencil the edge of fabrics, especially for simple curtains in the common areas.

I'm excited that stenciling is fun!

Ran Out of Stain...

...and we haven't quite finished. Bummer. Now we need to go back to Sherwin Williams and see if we can sweet talk them into selling us more at the sale price. =)

I had thought we bought more than we needed, but the neighbor bought such rough fence boards that the coverage of each gallon was far lower than was labelled on the can. We should have been able to put two coats on the fence and we didn't even finish one!

Unfortunately, we didn't buy the wood, the neighbor did. I would have sprung for a bit more finished wood as it would have made it easier to paint and work with. The boards he bought had a lot of knots, cracks and rough grain and painting boards with so much surface texture took way more paint to cover completely. Oh well.

We received a 10% off coupon for Overstock.com so I've been cruising around their website this afternoon. We're thinking about buying quite a few rain chains from them. I've been a bit astonished at the price of these yard items! We dropped in at a local garden store and they were asking $140 for one rain chain!! So, $86 less 10% at Overstock.com doesn't seem so bad.

Anyway, we want to hang them off the house in conjunction with rain barrels and swales. It is our hope we'll be able to disconnect the gutters from the storm water system by next spring. We were hoping to finish this project this fall, but our other projects are moving along a little more slowly than hoped.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Still Painting

We're still working on painting the fence. It's taking longer than we expected. We have mostly finished painting all the unassembled parts, but we still have several panels remaining. It's been a struggle painting with the heat this week, because if it gets too hot the paint dries too fast. Today, it is mercifully cooler. Though, so far, we haven't gotten started on painting. We worked on another project we've been wanting to do for a while.

We finally put together our master bedroom upstairs. Now that fall is approaching, we'd like to get started on getting the upstairs bedroom set up. Today, we put the bed together. And now I'm working on assembling the Roman shades.

I finished sewing on the rings a couple of weeks ago, but we hadn't yet found the tools to hang them. Jeff found those this morning. In this photo I've just set the shade in the window, it still needs to be hung properly. It's a good thing they're temporary because they're a little small for the opening. I think my next shades need to be sized to hang on the front of the window frame instead of being inset.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Painting Fence Boards

Our side fence is in pretty bad shape. When we first moved in, our neighbor, Jim, talked to us about the fence. He was happy to buy the wood and assemble the new pieces, but he didn't like painting fences, so we agreed to do it. So, this morning we spent about 3 hours painting fence boards, until it just got too hot. The paint was drying much too fast in the heat.

Over the weekend, Jim started assembling sections and we started with painting those, but then we realized how much more work it was to paint assembled sections so we abandoned that effort in favor of painting the fence boards for him to use when assembling the next sections. I think it will save us a lot of time if we can paint the wood before he assembles the pieces.

Despite thinking we had decided which remodeler to go with, I found some pretty crummy reviews on Angie's List for the company we were so enthusiastic about on Thursday. And then we met with Green Hammer again on Sunday to look over one of their completed jobs and it raised their performance in my estimation, so we're back to not knowing which to choose.

So, in an attempt to gather more information, yesterday evening I spent a couple of hours calling references for each of the contractors. Unfortunately, it hasn't really helped; all of the folks I called gave very glowing reviews and barely managed to come up with any problems with their jobs.

Tonight we are going to meet a lady who switched to Green Hammer from Craftsman Design and Renovation after the initial design phase of her job. We're going to go and talk with her about her reasons for switching, and we're going to see the work that Green Hammer did for her. I'd really like it if we could decide this week which company to hire! I'm eager to have this decision settled so we can move on to the next task on our list!

Our Cute Dog Child

I think this video is cute, so I thought I would share it. This is Jeff playing with Shasta by holding down bamboo branches close enough to the ground so that she can chase them. We used to let her catch them, but they tear up her gums when she chews on the sharp leaves.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Inundated with Library Books

Jeff and I finally got around to signing up for library cards and I have gotten a little carried away with checking out books. Libraries are awesome—so many FREE books to choose from! I've borrowed generously in the bungalow subject areas and Multnomah County has an awesome collection. I've also borrowed a few books that are on my wishlist to "preview" them before buying them. It saved me a few bucks as I only plan to buy one of them now.

I gotta buy me this book: The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns: 4050 Pieced Blocks for Quilters. It's a beautiful book and gives dates for when blocks appear in historic quilt pattern books. I'd like to make a quilt with some historically appropriate blocks out of some really beautiful William Morris reproduction fabrics I bought a couple months ago.

This fabric is wonderful. Unfortunately it was released a couple years ago and is pretty much gone by now. I bought everything I could find.

This project is of course a long-term "wouldn't it be nice" project. I really can't be making another quilt for my bed until after we finish the remodel. I have so many other projects in my queue right now.

Lovely Wedding

Yesterday we went to a wonderful wedding of two of our friends, Kate and Deane. It's really neat because we knew Deane from square dancing and we knew Kate from SCA.

It was the best wedding ever because we got to bring our dog child!! It was a lovely, informal wedding in the park. And they did a great job on the food. It was really nice to see so many of our Oregon friends again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Found Our Remodeler!

We just met with a local remodeling company—Craftsman Design and Renovation. I spent hours yesterday cruising around their website reading everything I could find and looking at every picture. I was really impressed with their work in regards to remodeling historic houses and maintaining their historic integrity.

This morning we met with Wade Freitag, the owner and interior architect, and Chelly Wentworth, the senior designer. I think we really hit it off with them and they seem to totally "get" what we're trying to do. So, assuming their references check out to our satisfaction, I think we've found our remodeler!

It's such a relief to have this big decision behind us. I feel a little bad about not hiring Green Hammer, because they seemed awesome too, but we are confident Craftsman Design will do a better job remodeling to suit the style of the house. Though, we still have to decide how much we're willing to invest into this house right now, when we've just moved and both still unemployed. We'll no doubt spend more than we should...

The weather today has finally turned cooler. It actually sprinkled this morning, which was a welcome departure from the heat earlier in the week.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Turning Our Attention to Remodel Planning

Our hot weather is making it difficult to do real work, so I've turned my attention to getting our remodel planning started. We've been negotiating with Green Hammer recently, but today I found another promising-looking firm, Craftsman Design and Renovation. I like many of the samples in their online portfolio and their work appears in some of my bungalow books. We have an appointment with them on Thursday morning.

I'm anxious to get a remodel plan finished so we can get started on something! I'm itching to start scraping some paint off woodwork so we can figure out just how difficult a job we're taking on. I scored some douglas fir salvage doors last week and I think I'll try the electric paint stripper on them once it cools off later in the week.

I'm looking forward to dreaming about the possibilities. I've already begun making sketches of dreamed of floor plans. This is exciting for me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sold the Trailer

We got quite a lot of responses to our craigslist ad for the Wells Cargo trailer. Finally sold it for good today for close to our asking price. We're happy with the deal. And now we plan to take the funds and purchase a smaller trailer, something that will fit in our garage and down our driveway without problem. Not really sure yet what we'll be getting.

Our furniture ads are doing OK too, especially the cheap stuff. =)

Since the weather has been so hot, I started unpacking our stained glass project down in the basement. I'd like to get that project going again as it would be great to get it finally finished. Unfortunately, the pattern got a little damaged in the rain in Redwood City; it apparently got damp and now it's wrinkled. I'm wondering if it would be possible to take off all the glass and mist the paper down and try to flatten it with an iron. I think I'll have to try it with another piece of paper and see if it works.

The basement is certainly not an ideal location to work on stained glass as it's so dark down there. But that's really the only place we have the space to set up the work area.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yes We Canned!

We have been canning and baking up a storm this weekend. We found a good deal on local apricots so we ended up buying 2 full boxes (about 30 pounds worth). We actually would have bought more, but the store realized they were undercharging for the fruit and raised the price right after us.
We finished up the last of the peaches in a batch of apricot-peach-blueberry jam. That batch was a really pretty color.

Jeff also baked up one the six apricot pie fillings with the addition of a handful of blueberries and this morning he made jam cookies. We are eating good food this weekend! Yum.

We're thinking about going Monday morning and doing some U-Pick to get some more peaches. We'd really like to try doing more canning of fruit slices.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Craigslist Rocks!

Today was mostly spent shuffling furniture around, trying to figure out the final placement of furniture pieces, and then unpacking into the furniture once we were reasonably sure it was in the right place. We now have night stands in our basement bedroom! During Jeff's last trip down to California, he picked up two living room end tables and two bedroom night stands, all Bentwood, in the same finish as our other craigslist pieces! Yah for craigslist!

Jeff and I have spent several hours today cleaning and touching up furniture and taking pictures. I'm in the process of listing several pieces on craigslist in an attempt to help declutter the house. We have a number of cherry pieces left from California that we didn't have time to sell and I didn't have the foresight to call a charity to come pick them up before we left, so they got thrown into that last POD. (Unfortunately, then some the stuff we actually did want to keep wouldn't fit.) Though, on the bright side, that enabled Jeff to go pick up those Bentwood furniture pieces in California, so I don't consider that it was a wasted trip.

I also went ahead and listed our Wells Cargo trailer, because it doesn't fit at this house. The wheel base is too wide to fit down the driveway, so it needs to go. Hopefully we'll be able to find someone to take it off our hands fairly soon because it's blocking our driveway.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Canning Today

Jeff brought back a big tub of peaches with him from Redwood City. They are off the tree in the backyard at Upton. Even though I didn't particularly feel like canning today, with fruit you use it or you lose it. So, canning we are. =)

This is the first time we've tried canning peach slices. We only had 4 pint jars of peaches that were "perfect" enough. The rest of the peaches are being made into jam and coffee cake. Jeff is still working on the coffee cake, so there's no pictures yet.

I ended up doing three batches of jam, and unfortunately, I lost a jar in the hot water bath, probably because there wasn't a metal tray in the bottom of the pot and the jar was right above the flame. Oh well. My tray went AWOL a couple moves ago.