Monthly Archives: April 2012

Unnecessary temptations

In a burst of questionable judgement, I friended my hometown animal shelter on Facebook. Terrible idea. Logging onto Petfinder is something I can generally avoid, but now I get regular newsfeed updates like: “Williams County Humane Society added 7 photos to the album Williams County Humane Society ~ Adoptable Pets.”

And then I HAVE TO click on it.

One of those 7 photos this week was this, with the caption: Katie ~ 4 year old female Mountain Feist (small in size). I am a little shy, but I do enjoy the outdoors very much. There are so many wonderful smells out here!

What a lovely feist friend for Samson! With a name he already recognizes hahaha. Read says I’m just torturing myself because we can’t have two dogs and two cats in this little apartment.

So then I torture myself some more by looking up real estate in the Boston area. After about ten minutes I’ve snapped back into reality and can proceed with studying Spanish for the final exam this week.

Oregon lavender field

I made some new handspun to play with…about 280 yards of Widdershin Woolworks, mostly BFL wool with a little silk.
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Lots of navy, sea blue, deep greens, and some purple. Widdershin leaves the color unnamed, so I’m calling it “Oregon lavender field.” So pretty!

Lavender Valley - Hood River, OR

I sewed my friend Christine a roll-up case for her double-pointed needles, and in return she’s going to let me pick out a skein from her yarn-dyeing shop, Skeinny Dipping.

When we last got together to watch trashy television she let me take a few skeins home to test the colors against my handspun. I think my favorite was this milky silver:
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I’ll have to trade out this test skein for a thicker weight, and then the two can become a striped shawl, like Veera’s Different Lines or Stephen West’s Chevry.

Love it or list it?

Blankenmom asked to see how the dresser that I refurnished for the spare bedroom looked in its space. Right now it’s very simple – just some succulents and photos – but perhaps I can work on a more inspiring tablescape. Tami was complimentary even though the dresser was still emitting a varnish smell that required her to crack the window at night. Oops.

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It was a good visit. We drank champagne, watched HGTV, knit, took sunset walks, read trashy magazines…all the best stuff. We went to backbar in Union Square, which I recommend for anyone who appreciates a well-made cocktail. Very swanky in an Oregon-steampunk-hipster kind of way.

Tami also introduced us to her sister and her partner who live in this great old house in Somerville. The upstairs unit is currently available – three bedrooms, two baths, fenced backyard, awesome housemates. We trouped up the stairs for a late-night tour after backbar and I started to get all googly over the place. With so many people around me leaving to do big things (take a new job, buy a house, relocate, etc.), I am sure that part of my wish to move to Somerville was fueled by a I-want-to-have-an-adventure-too feeling. Besides, who wouldn’t get googly over this kitchen?

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It’s cute, right? I know! But there’s a catch. We’d need to bring in a roommate to make rent. We met as roommates and we had a wonderful roommate in Oregon, so it’s not like that’s an instant deal-breaker. But after a lot of discussion this week we decided that with all the trouble moving would require, it wasn’t worth having to share our immediate space again. Also, there’s a large gang of feral cats on the block and it seemed likely Teddy would be getting into scuffles. Sigh…not an easy decision though. Even looking over my shoulder at these pictures Read just said, “Is that the house? Oh…it’s so pretty. It hurts to say no.”

So…faced with such a pretty kitchen, do you think you could go back to having roommates if you’d been living without them for a while?

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In working through the pros and cons of moving, I played out what it would take to relocate my balcony garden. Re-using last year’s dirt by adding kitchen compost seems to be working- the radishes and peas are doing well. There’s even what appears to be a rogue potato coming up out of the compost.

UntitledI’d gotten as far as deliberating whether it’d be better to lower the pallet with an elaborate rope and pulley system…or give it the heave-ho and deal with the aftermath on the ground. Now we can delay that dilemma but at some point I’m going to have to relocate a lot of dirt from the second story balcony. I’ve built a ship-in-a-bottle up there and getting it out is going to require a ton of effort.

Ah well. Back to the Spanish homework that I ignored last week to make room for maximum Tami-time!

Edith

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Curb Finds: Refinishing a small dresser for Tami

Turning thirty might have triggered a lot of self-reflection and deep thoughts, but it also brought the best present ever…a carefully-orchestrated surprise visit from Tami.

What a sneak.  She and Read secretly schemed to plan a visit from Oregon, and she flies in this week! When I found out I texted her a hundred exclamation points, which I felt appropriately conveyed my excitement.

Tami’s visit inspired me to spruce up our spare bedroom. A couple weeks ago on my morning walk with Sam, bleary-eyed and cold, I passed this wooden dresser out on the curb.

P1020010Ten minutes later I sort of registered what I had seen – an extremely ugly, but nonetheless apartment-sized piece of solid wood furniture. FOR FREE. In the time it took me to circle back someone had stripped off all the hardware. Weird. But I lifted and limped it home all the same. I ended up with two big hip bruises, but by god I got it up the porch steps (I imagine that in times like this I resemble one of those burrow-dwelling ants, slowly dragging something backwards into the front door).

What was under that hideous and non-ironic olive green? Yesterday, armed with paint stripper, gloves, and a scraper I found out…
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The green paint bubbled and puckered and scraped off to reveal a dusty rose.

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Under THAT was a layer of shiny varnish. Geez this thing was like a gobstopper.
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The little neighbor boy wandered over, curious. “Is that boring?” he asked, and I had to confess (to him and myself) that it’s actually incredibly satisfying. I like to pick things and pop zits and scrub grime. So an afternoon with a can of paint stripper is great fun. After a few hours I had gotten it down to this:
P1020026And then I brought in some rough sandpaper and took off what remained of the old varnish.
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After running tackcloth over everything I applied a dark walnut stain, waited 5 minutes, and rubbed it off. The wood grain was really starting to shine through.
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I added about $20 of new burnished brass hardware and rubbed Pledge furniture oil over everything. How’s that for a curbside makeover?
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Turning Thirty

Yesterday was my 30th birthday. It didn’t cause an existential crisis or a tragic evening studying emerging wrinkles in the bathroom, but I did feel more reflective than past years…really thinking about where I want to go and how we can keep building the kind of life we hope to lead.

It just so happened that my birthday week brought some changes too, including the departure of the favorite coworker and the announcement from upstairs and downstairs neighbors (who we really like) that they’re moving out in a few weeks. This will all take getting used to.

People keep telling me how good their thirties have been so far. After the twenties, which are a lot about getting a degree and getting ahead and getting a paycheck, the thirties seem to be less fraught. More about settling into the person you are. A friend from grad school told me that 33 has been especially good – “I’m in a similar place as I was when I was 30, but in general I feel a lot more content about it. I just feel good about where I’m at.”

If you’ve experienced The Dirty Thirties – as a birthday text from my highschool friend calls them – what’s it been like?

Remake of a vintage dress

After deconstructing my white vintage dress to make a pattern from it, I planned to put it back together before starting anything else.  But I’ve been feeling sad – my best buddy at work took another job – and cutting into this funky green/blue fabric offered some consolation. I sat at my new little sewing nook late into the evening, pinning and seaming. And here it is!

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While deconstructing the dress, I made a mental note of how certain details (i.e. neckline) were put together and I made sure to mark the placement of darts and the zipper. Since the pieces were traced from a dress that fit well, I didn’t have to pause while sewing to try things on and make pattern adjustments, AND I knew I’d like the final fit. So even though ripping every seam out of a piece of clothing seems scary, I’m a believer!

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Making a pattern from an existing garment: the vintage dress

Last night I took a seamripper to this little vintage beauty…
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…and ended up with all of this.
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I ironed the pieces flat and traced them onto plain white non-ironable interfacing. I’ve made patterns with newspaper before and it sometimes rips and/or gets smudgy ink on fabric and fingers. This interfacing is flexible but tough. I wrote instructions and piece descriptions directly onto the interfacing with sharpie.
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Before cutting into my lovely spring stripes, I’m going to practice in two ways. First, I’ll re-sew the vintage dress (all the seams needed strengthening anyway) to get a feel for how the little details are constructed. Second, I think I’ll make a dress from this funky fabric my mom mailed last year…juuuust to make sure I have it right!

Vintage fabric for a dress project