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Hero dad!

Oh man, it’s so hot here today. It’s walk across the yard once and feel sweat rolling down your back hot. It’s walk outside and feel like a deflated balloon hot. It’s crank up all the air conditioners in the house hot.

So, what did I do today?

Well, remember this crazy mess?

deck support pulled out

My mom and dad both made plans weeks ago to drive out today to help me with this mess. Dad was a trooper and a hero. The previous homeowners just left wire stapled to the side of the deck, so we spent the morning fishing PVC piping conduit along the bottom fence post and then fishing the wire through that. It seems much more protected from the weather now.

And, shout out to the neighbor too since she gave me all the PVC piping for free. It was left over from a failed awning project in her yard, and she told me I could take as much as I needed. If I decide to move (and manage to find a buyer for the house), it will be sad to leave her behind. She’s a great neighbor.

So, back to hero dad. The wire had to be made longer, so there he was outside in the hot, hot weather in the last remaining tiny patch of shade to get everything disconnected and reconnected. Then, we came in for lunch and a chance to cool down.

Then, round two was after lunch in the hottest part of the day —  the 10-3 window that the news is constantly reminding us to weather indoors at this time. Not dad and I, he took his saw outside and helped me destroy the framing of the deck. We got that done in the direct sunlight. Seriously, it was so hot that at one point I wasn’t thinking, and I handed the crow bar over to my dad. He had to drop it because it was so hot. I had gloves on, so I hadn’t recognized our tools had turned into flaming rods of steel.

Then, we came back inside. Did I mention it was so hot?

Then, we went back out for one more round. I pulled a giant fan out of the basement and set it up in the garage, so it could at least keep the air moving around us as we cut the deck frame down into lengths short enough for me to either funnel out to the trash over the next couple weeks or take to dump in one big trip (or maybe a combo of both). I don’t think Gretel can quite handle all that wood in one trip.

walkway destroyedHere’s the backyard now. Obviously, there is still work to be done because a new walk has to be installed, but the wonderful part is that now the work can be done. That wire and framing were holding up the installation of the new walkway. Now, I have two guys from the college who are interested in installing the pavers for the new walk.

So, bottom line, long term planning is a good idea. If I’d been thinking harder about moving, I wouldn’t have destroyed the old wood walk. I’d have let it go because this project has been quite a bit of hassle, and I doubt it’s adding anything to the resale value of the house. I also wouldn’t have taken boards off the ramp that I’m not going to keep because then I wouldn’t be facing the task of putting those boards back on the ramp (probably Sunday or Monday when this heat wave breaks).

Super bottom line — thanks, dad! You’re an amazing person to help me with a mess of my own making on one of the craziest, hottest days of the year.


Embarking on another quilt along

Ok, I must be going crazy…either that or I’m trying to stay motivated.

I’m struggling to keep up with the String of Pearls Quilt Along that I joined, which is a little sad because I’m making the quilt less than half the size of the actual quilt along pattern.

Christa's quilt along block progressHere’s what I have so far, but when the next step is released on the 17th, I’m supposed to have the blocks finished with the top and bottom borders sewn on, and I’m supposed to have all the blocks put together into a completed quilt top.

deck support pulled outBut, my mom and dad are coming on Wednesday to help me deal with this hot mess in the backyard, and I have to teach a 4 hour class tomorrow evening, so that quilt is not going to be in one piece by Wednesday. I’m not giving up hope though because we get an entire two weeks to baste and back the quilt. It’s my chance to catch up! I still can finish on time. I know I can.

In the meantime, a few other intriguing quilt alongs have surfaced, but I have resisted. However, today I found the star surround quilt along, and I don’t think I can resist. It’s a little more intimidating to me since new instructions are going to be released weekly instead of bi-weekly, and the week of completing the quilt top coincides with the first week of school, but heck, why not take on the challenge? Students won’t turn in any full length papers to grade in that first week.

I told myself that I could only do this quilt along if I could raid my growing stash and make the quilt from fabrics already on hand (excluding the backing and binding). I let what I found in my stash dictate that I’ll be making the 40 x 40 baby quilt, which is going to be one giant block.

Well, the stash and my fear of flying geese have dictated that decision. You might recall that my last go round with flying geese was just a bit intimidating, so the thought of making one block with them instead of nine blocks with them seems more doable. I guess it’s time to listen to the old cliche, when you fall off the horse, you’ve got to get back on and ride again. I’m going to work on making those geese without clipping their wings this time.

This week is just fabric selection week.

Hint, hint: That means there is plenty of time to still join in the fun.

I’ve put together two choices from my stash to mull over.

Star quilt along choice 2If I go with this choice, the yellow and light pink would become the star. The dark pink will form the border of the star, and the gray will be the background. Solid is recommended for the background, so this is a bit of a risky choice, but since there is no direction to it, I think it would work.

Star Quilt Along choice oneThe second choice is more bold. The yellow and black will form the center star. The black and white will form the border (which worries me just a tad because there’s a direction to the fabric), and then the bold, solid red for the background.

I’m leaning towards the bold yellow, black, red combo since I’m doing the single block design. I think it will have more impact. But, what do you think? This is baby size, so would the softer pinks be better? Will I tear my hair out with the directional fabrics?

Cutting starts next week, so I’ll need to decide by next Monday.

Fresh Poppy Design

You want what for those shelves?!?

Despite the threat of impending rain, I took off this morning to go to some yard sales. There were a few bummers where the promised yard sale didn’t exist because people didn’t drag their stuff into the yard due to the weather, and I had to navigate a few cramped garages, but it was worth it. I wasn’t very far into the day before I saw a stack of wood shelves and the standards for them on a guy’s driveway. I cruised past and into the garage, but on the way out, I stopped to look at them.

There was a 4 written on tape on the side of one standard, so I was wondering if that was the price. I was trying to size up the situation when the owner came over. He informed me that what I was seeing wasn’t all I’d be getting. He had the standards, eight 4 foot shelves, and four 3 foot shelves. The 3 and 4 foot shelves can’t be used together since there is only one set of standards, but basically, the package included 12 shelves that could be made into two sizes. I was starting to think that 4 on the side of the shelves was too good to be true as a price tag. All the wood was in great shape. Plus, check out how close the holes were drilled in the standards.

shelf holes Sorry, I was taking the picture with one hand and using my thumb for reference, but I think the picture is clear enough to convey the idea that the holes are super close together the entire length of the shelves. Everything is lined up so beautifully too. I’m guessing that the guy made them and that he really knew what he was doing.

So, after he finished telling me what was included, he said, “Eh, you can have it all for $5.”


I had been standing there wondering if I should insult him by asking if the 4 on the tape was the price, and he actually said I could have everything for $5. He didn’t have to tell me twice. I whipped out money and paid him before anyone else could overhear and try to get in on the deal.

Sometimes I come home from a yard sale, and I think, “Hm…I ought to have bargained with them to take a few more bucks off that item.” Tonight I’m thinking, “I should have hugged that guy!”

I was  so excited that I carried the shelves to the basement and partially assembled them (which was a bit tricky for one lone person to accomplish). I have a bunch of lamps that I want to refinish, so I started arranging them on the shelves. Now, I can actually get to the peg board that holds my tools, which means I can actually make progress cleaning the basement. Yes, this was $5 well invested.

And, when I went downstairs to take this picture with the most horrific backdrop ever, I realized that if I take the harps off the tall lamps, I can actually drop the shelf and add one or two shelves beyond what I thought I could add.

Go, yard sales! May the basement cleaning momentum continue.

start of shelvesP.S. With the holes drilled so perfectly close, I also think this would make the perfect fabric storage/quilting supplies shelf if I ever bring it up from the basement and stain it. Hm…maybe I can get some standards made for the 3 foot shelves…

Wall of floating books

Quilting has gotten off track around here since I took a hiatus to sew curtains for my sister (ahem…sister who reads this blog and owes me before and after shots for said blog). And, I was busy knocking out odds and ends projects in preparation for the arrival of my real estate agent yesterday. He came to evaluate the improvements I’ve made since taking over this fixer upper (and to evaluate the improvements that haven’t quite been made yet), and I should hear soon what the sweat equity I’ve gained.

The realtor’s impending arrival gave me the push needed to clean up the attic office, which had become cluttered basically to the point of being unusable (or, at the very least, unspiring). I’ve been meaning to hang the decor on the accent wall forever, and this totally turned out to be one of those — why-didn’t-you-do-this-two-years-ago-when-you-got-the-stuff types of projects. But, alas, it is done now.

floating book wallIt’s amazing. The desk was so covered with random junk just three days ago that it was unusable. Now, I just finished grading papers at it and and am typing this blog from it.

floating book wall-  desktop viewIf you were a pencil on my desk, here would be your view of my book wall. I know. You wish you were a pencil on my desk because your view would be so rad.

Floating book wall book close-upLest you think the wall is an attempt to make me look all pretentious and smart and stuff, you should know that the books are my faux letter bound collection of Agatha Christie novels. Personally, I think that faux leather bound Christie is rather ridiculous. It seems more appropriate to buy her in beat up old paperbacks, but I ran across these at a library book sale, justified the purchase by saying that I was supporting the public library, and there they are on the wall.

office looking toward deskWhile the office is clean, which doesn’t happen often, I’ll give you a tour. Here’s the view of the desk. The closet behind it is currently stuffed with all the junk that was on the desk. Yay, closet!

office - view from file cabinetHere’s the view from the other side of the room. Ignore the shoddy covering job on the ottoman; I just jabbed a few straight pins into the fabric before the realtor came; I need to take the fabric off at some point and make a legitimate slip cover. The window seat that I started awhile ago is under the air conditioner. I just realized that I never took pictures of that project, but I’ve decided that I have one more thing to add to it, so you’ll have to wait for the true reveal.

office - couchI have to show you a close-up of the couch. This is the first couch that I bought when I moved into the house, mainly because it was one of the only couches I could find for less than $300. My mom thinks that an armless, bean-shaped couch is ridiculous, and I will grant her the fact that it’s in the office now because it’s not super comfy to watch TV on a couch with no arms, but I still like this couch and can’t bring myself to get rid of it.

office - quilting fabricsAnd, finally, here is my quilt stash and Betzee sitting in her case beckoning me to come back to quilting. I opened up a bunch of floor space in my cleaning frenzy, so now I’m going to set up a table and sew up here in my more inspirational space — at least until mom and dad come to visit this week. Could it be possible that my dining room table won’t be sewing central anymore? We’ll see.

And, yes, that is the third closet in the room. There are four total. If I sell this place, I need a crafter to see this storage.

Deogi - sleeping with head off bedDeogi is less enthused with the space.

Deogi using pillow on couchAt least at one point, he decided that laying with his head off the dog bed wasn’t ideal, so he moved to the couch with a throw pillow.

Deogi - awake on dog bedAs I kept snapping pictures of him in his various sleeping poses, he’d wake up and look at me as if to say, “Hey! Could you show people that I’m awake some of the time.” Sorry, buddy, your leg splayed out behind you gives away the fact that you were sprawled out in a sound asleep only moments before I snapped the photo.

These are a few of my least favorite things

It’s going to be a busy, busy weekend. My sister arrives tomorrow to spend the 4th of July with me. We’ve also got plans to take in First Friday in Downtown Lancaster unless it rains…again…like it feels like it’s been doing for the past 40 days. Somewhere in there, she wants to go fabric shopping and wants me to make some new curtains. She’s bringing her paint clothes, so I’m hoping for a tradeoff. I make her curtains; she paints some of the last remaining  trim in the house. We’ll see how things go.

So between her coming and the fact that my real estate agent is coming on the 8th to give me an idea of what my house would list for if I would decide to sell and move on to new(er) digs, I decided it was time to really buckle down and finish some projects that have been waiting far too long, which incidentally means they are projects I wasn’t particularly enamored with doing. I didn’t take picture, but I weeded and remulched the front hill today.  And, there were plenty of indoor projects to complete.

ungrouted tileWhen the kitchen was refinished, I opted to tile the counters since that seemed to be the most economical option open at the time. I wound up just a few tiles short, then Lowes was out of the tiles for awhile, then I bought the tiles, waited forever to take the end one to Home Depot to be cut, put them on the wall, and waited forever to finish grouting them. See those annoying three gaps that need to be grouted? When I installed the counters years ago, the grouting was the part I hated the most. Darn you HGTV people for making things look so ridiculously easy. Grout can actually be tricky stuff to handle (and messy!). However, it was time.

finished groutI’m not the world’s best tile worker, but the grouting is finally complete. Yay! Now, I need to wait a bit for that grout to cure, and I should really clean all the grout in the kitchen and seal it. We’ll see how many years that might take (unless the news from the realtor is really good next Tuesday and I find a great new house).

grout clean upWhen I grabbed a plastic bag so I could go out to the backyard and clean out the grout trough, I had to chuckle. I think this picture wraps up the juxtaposition that is me quite well — messy tools and projects and fabric.

On to the next dreaded project…

thermostat beforeOne of the great parts of the furnace breaking down a few years ago was the fact that the furnace company installed a programmable thermostat with the new furnace. One of the not-so-great parts was that the old thermostat was larger and damaged the plaster on the wall when it was removed. Oh plaster, you and I are not friends. And, yes, I really was working on this project at 10:56 pm.

themostat repair toolsWhereas plaster and I are not friends, wall repair fabric and I are the best of friends. In the attic, I once had to patch a huge gap created when I ripped down a shady paneling job. That was before I knew about this magical fabric, and thus that project was Terrible (yes, with a capital T).

thermostat wall fabricNow that I’m smarter, I put up the wall fabric — 11:03. Not bad since I had to remove all the old flaking plaster.

thermostat mid pointAnd, here is the progress after coat two of drywall patch. It still needs one or two more coats and then some paint, but I’m getting there. And, no, I wasn’t working on this at 11:49 pm. That’s when I snagged the photo — right after I vacuumed and blew up the $5 air mattress that I snagged at a yard sale last year to make sure it was usable for the weekend.

bathroom stucco mishapI also tackled the stucco job that I’ve been dreading for awhile now. When I stuccoed over a brick wall in the bathroom, I didn’t quite bring the stucco down the wall far enough. It was a sad, sad day when my dad installed the trim, and I saw the big gap between stucco and trim. Since stucco is such a nightmare scenario for me, I filled in the gap with a few layers of drywall patch to reduce my contact time with the stucco. That was dried and ready to go, so tonight, I got all up close and personal with the toilet and finished the final layer of stucco. There is no after picture because it wouldn’t be all that impressive, but I’m happy it’s done. I’ll let it cure up over the weekend, and then the plan it to hit it and the thermostat patch with some paint before the realtor gets here.

paint on my legOh, and alongside the bleh projects that I’ve been putting off, I’ve also been doing some fun furniture painting projects. I’m not ready for a full reveal of them yet, but you can see a hint of the color as it is smeared all over my leg. No worries, in the furniture post, I’ll only reveal the furniture, not more of that sexy leg.

unpainted hardware for my nightstandI also spray painted this hardware and got it installed on the nightstand for my bedroom. Considering I primed that nightstand during the summer Olympics, I’m excited that my sister can help me finally put it in my room this weekend.

peach freeze with DeogiAnd, finally, my mom told me how to make mock ice cream out of blended fruit and almond milk, so I had a nice frozen mug of that the other night to reward my hard work too. Deogi wanted some, but he didn’t get any. I don’t think he did any work unless you count the time that I think he licked the wet drywall patch on the bathroom wall when I had my back turned.




Modern Blocks Quilt-a-Long – Spool

Last night, I finished ironing my blocks for the June Modern Blocks Quilt-a-Long. June focused on the Spool block, which was considerably easier than May’s Follow the Leader, a block that nearly drove me to smash my sewing machine and left me well-acquainted with my seam ripper. I did have to rip out some seams last night, but that is because I originally made my table runner 7 blocks long. After I spread it across the dining room table, I realized that the sample table runner measurement that I looked up online must have been for people born with a silver spoon in their mouths. For those of us with average sized dining rooms and average sized tables like me, the 7 block runner hung below the edge of the table. It wasn’t a good overhang, it was more of the a-guest-is-sure-to-snag-this-and-spill-everything-on-the-table overhang. So, I pulled the out some seams and made a 5 block runner instead.

spool block - tealFor this month’s block, I used the fabulous MicroMod fabric line from Cloud 9 Fabrics filled in with a little gray.

spool block - fushiaThe MicroMod fabrics are the ones that I won from Katie over at Swim Bike Quilt. Thanks again, Katie!

If you’re thinking, “Hmm… modern blocks quilt-a-long?” It’s not too late to join in the fun. There are still 10 blocks to go. I think I’m going to try super sizing July’s block. I’ve been wanting to try to blow up a block to table topper or tote bag proportions for awhile now. I’m a little worried about the math involved. Does anyone know of an online calculator that helps change the measurement proportions of a quilt block? Or, do you have any other tips for expanding a quilt block to double or triple its original size?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll also want to take some time in July to quilt the table runner (and fix the eyesore of a walkway that’s in the background of the picture). I’m excited/nervous because I want the quilting to go really well, but I’ll be trying something new — this big diamond, little diamond technique.

Alright, my sister is going to be visiting for the holiday weekend and my realtor is coming on the 8th to tell me how much the house would possibly sell for if I decide to move, so as much as I’d love to spend the night quilting, I really ought to spend the night grouting the last of the countertop tiles, fixing some drywall mishaps, stuccoing the bathroom wall, and/or cleaning the house. We’ll see how far I get on that ambitious list. I did have some Starbuck’s iced coffee, so I’m feeling a little wired for the tasks ahead.

I’m linking up to Fabric Tuesdays and Sew Cute Tuesday this week because I want to procrastinate by browsing through both of the linky parties before I get to that home improvement list.

Fresh Poppy Design

Better Off Thread

My very first quilt

I thought before I finally get around to hanging this quilt on my bedroom wall, it would be fun to show off the quilt that started (and almost finished) my quilting hobby.

I grew up loving Little House on the Prairie, so somewhere always within me there was probably this fascination with all things handmade. If I remember correctly, at a homeschool event, I made a simple little nine patch quilt block. And, I think that was all it took.

From there, I took a class at my local quilt shop. In high school, my family lived literally 15 minutes away from nearly anything that resembled civilization except for a pizza place, a little general store (that achieved nearly heroic status when it started selling soft serve ice cream), and a quilt shop. Sigh…those were the days. If I lived 5 minutes from a quilt shop now, I’d be in my glory…and broke. But, still. Oh well, at least Joann Fabric is on the way home from church. I stop in there and raid their remnants bin on a regular basis. Still, an honest to goodness, quilt shop on the way home would be amazing.

I digress. So, I think it was in high school that I took my quilting class. And, I was determined to do everything by hand. I’m not even sure if I had my first sewing machine at that point. I might have, but I wanted to my quilt to be unpolluted by the stains of modern technology. I also wanted it to be museum quality. So, I obsessed over putting in the teeny tiniest stitches I could possibly make.

And, that took forever. I did the project in fits and starts. Seriously, I just finished the binding last year, and I’m 32. Fortunately, even though I’m using a different quilt in my bedroom, it’s still the same colors as the quilt that I had in high school, so I can still use this — even though I’ve switched bedrooms 5 times since I started making a quilt for my bedroom.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture isn’t the absolute best. Sun was shining straight through the quilt, so we can see that I still hadn’t learned that sometimes it’s a good idea to press the seams of dark fabrics toward the dark fabric. Fortunately, the sun does not shine through my bedroom walls, so no one will really be the wiser. I also hadn’t learned to handle the bias edges of triangles with care.

heart hand quilted I quilted many, many hearts into the border of the quilt. I know now that museum quality stitches aren’t just tiny, they’re supposed to be even front and back, which isn’t the case on this quilt. Still, I like that I tried to have some design flair. And, I really need to get on with learning free motion quilting. As much as I like straight line quilting, it would be handy to know how to quilt shapes again.

heart foursomeYep, many, many hearts.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI did branch out for the borders around the blocks…probably because I couldn’t make hearts tiny enough.

And, there you have it. Taking over 10 years to finish a quilt was a bit much for me. I won’t say that I’ll never hand quilt anything ever again because it is nice to work on something in front of the TV or to be able to pick up something and move with it. But, I’m a machine quilting girl now. With so many beautiful fabrics in the world to combine, I want to get through projects in a reasonable time. And, there is something that I love once I get to the stage where I start quilting. For me, there’s almost a magical transformation as three separate layers start to meld together and drape nicely, and I’m no longer fearful — fearful of losing pieces, fearful of stretching something out of shape. Instead, I’m seeing a beautiful, useful creation emerge within my hands.

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