goodbye ugly house

If you’ve been following for a while, you know we have done some updating in the interior of our house (paint, light fixtures, laundry room makeover, entire kitchen renovation, etc.).

Well, it is finally time to get the trashy-looking outside bright and happy. We qualified for a rehabilitation loan through the county, which has made this all possible. In total, it includes: new AC unit, new water heater, new furnace, new exterior door and storm door, 5 new windows, some electrical updates for code, and new siding. The county budgets for average quality products (such as vinyl siding), and Boy and I chipped in our own savings for higher quality items (such as LP Smart Siding) and a few extras (like storm doors all around, soffit and facia, light fixtures, etc.).

fugly_house_4

The process has been ridiculous – we began our application last April, yet only this week did some of the necessary items get delivered, because they were only ordered about a month ago (why?!). And one of the orders was wrong anyway. And there has been a lot of miscommunication throughout the whole ordeal, even though we have been very clear about what we wanted (which was spoken verbally, in written contract, and through text messages). It doesn’t make any sense, and the county is a little perturbed that it was not finished within the 90 day period last year, but it certainly is not our problem!

fugly_house_2

The exterior transformation began last week (in the cold and snow, yes, which has its own annoyance because our heater bill this month will be outrageous but hey, at least I’m not the one out there in the cold, right?). When it is complete, I shall certainly post about it, but for now, you must look upon the ugly that the house currently is/was. I was worried that moving from vertical siding to horizontal siding would exacerbate the length of the house (it has additions that make it quite long!) but it actually seems to trick the eye into thinking the house is somehow less long. I greatly approve.

fugly_house_3

The budget did not include the garage, so for a time, I have to deal with that prison-grey eyesore still (which will get a new door and pergola someday), and we need to change out some more windows eventually. But, I have landscaping plans galore that I hope to begin this year. I’ve been waiting to address anything outside until the house was cute and proper. Now is the time! :D

fugly_house_1

Ahh, man, do I miss those sunny dappled days of summer!!!

scrapping Peru again!

I churned out a page for my Peru album. I really want to see this project finished – I went there in 2007! The blank space will hold a short snippet about the bioarchaeology field school (which was conducted in the tent in the small center photo).

scrapbook_peru_fieldschool

Though this was the purpose of my going to Lima, I chose to limit it to a single page rather than glorify human remains now that I know better. If anyone wanted to see what we learned, a simple search about bioarchaeology/human skeletal analysis would pretty much sum it up.

Springish cleaning

I’ve been putting my craft room through an overhaul recently. It might be a subconscious thing that I wish it were spring so if I start cleaning, maybe the weather will warm up? Blue skies will return? No? Well, I tried.

So, my closet was a disaster – fabrics stuffed all over the place, wrinkled and unsorted. They are beautifully cleaned up now! I donated much of my fabric stash to my sister-in-law and only kept what I think will come in handy in the future. And, now with our roommate having been moved out for almost a year, I have finally started using that empty room as storage so a lot of things got cleared out and placed there – halloween costumes, extra pillows and blankets, boxes of my graduate studies, those sorts of things.

I discovered a couple of work-in-progresses that I abandoned for various reasons. I am not sure what I will do with these here, but many of the others I dismantled for parts or simply tossed out.

First up was a phone case, for my first cellphone, the Kyocera Slider (man, did I love that phone!). This project is where I fell in love with embroidering and embellishing fabrics. Only back then, I knew nothing of either! I wasn’t even using embroidery thread – just a regular thread spool!

sewing_trials_1 sewing_trials_2

I also came across a book cover I was making, only to realize my measurement was off so I shoved it aside. It is now hung as a little piece of hoop art in my craft room closet (which is more like a little alcove than a closet). I had begun to understand embroidery by then a little.

sewing_trials_3 sewing_trials_4

This project was to experiment a little more with different stitches – no end goal in mind and so it sat and sat and sat. Now, it too hangs in my closet (and you may have seen it over on my Library page).

sewing_trials_9 sewing_trials_6 sewing_trials_7 sewing_trials_8

A stack of discarded book covers – the top one is still among my favorites but currently it is not in use. Most of these were trials – I learned measurements, I experimented with bookmarks, and tested different fabric varieties. Wow, have I come a long way since I began!

sewing_trials_10

To wrap up this post, I had mentioned earlier that I was going to get back into scrapbooking. Well, not only was my standard color printer out of ink, but my photo printer went kaput. I ordered a box of ink to try to clear it out, but it was just too gummy from not being in use for years. Boy and I tried desperately to get it to work, to no avail. Eventually, he came across a price point he could swallow and ordered me Canon’s new Pixma iP110 (of course, I am “working off” that price point by learning Quickbooks at his office, yay). It is very condensed in size, making it utterly portable. And not only that – there is a battery accessory that really does the job! Plus, as most things do these days, it works wirelessly. This means I can print easily from my new smart phone, too. Game on.

canon_pixma_ip110

I just got it set up, and I still have adult responsibilities like grading exams and whatnot, but I started playing with it and I love it. I hope to be deep in scrap heaven by the end of the weekend!

Oh, and speaking of my new smart phone, I want to say two things. First, we ordered a screen protector and the day before it arrived, my phone cracked. Thankfully, Apple replaced it for free because we aren’t sure what happened to it (and Boy’s company buys a lot of Apple items without ever calling in complaints). I just woke up and it was like that on my nightstand. Nothing untoward had happened to it the night before either. I believe that the only logical explanation is that my wedding ring did it – when someone handed it to me facedown perhaps (my band has stones all the way around) and it took a while for the crack to form. Maybe. I have no idea.

iphone6_crack

Second, I do not use purses and I did not want a phone case (though I heard this is essentially required for smart phones…). So rather than having a phone case and wallet separate, I hunted for a wallet case. I do not mean might-as-well-be-a-clutch-purse wallet, either. I am a no-fuss, two credit cards and an ID type of girl. I found the perfect one – seriously, I have recommended it to everyone I know. It is the Monk Magnet Wallet Case. I love that it fits my necessary cards and cash, but is still slim enough to pop in my back pocket. I love that the phone portion of the case is magnetic and comes apart from the wallet. This way, I do not have to hold my wallet to my head (though I certainly can very easily if I do not want to remove the phone to talk). I love that I can then use that magnetic case and slap my phone to the fridge for playing music or using for recipes, or just so I don’t misplace it in my house! And, one more thing, I love that I can stash notes in my wallet case by simply putting the paper between the phone and the wallet portion. Love, love, love. I stole these photos from their site because, well, it is winter and dark and gloomy, and their images look a heck of a lot better than mine!

monk_magnet_iphone6_2 monk_magnet_iphone6_1 monk_magnet_iphone6_3

I do not recommended brands often because I hate advertisements, but honestly, the printer and the phone case are winners. It is true I just got my printer, but I cannot see my opinion changing on that. And as for the phone case, it has been through a lot already in these two months since I’ve had it, and honestly? Looks freaking brand new still. Tell that one to your mother. (Do I even have to mention that in no way whatsoever am I compensated for my opinions? These companies do not even know I exist, psh.)

leather book cover

This project has been floating around my house for quite some time. Frankly, the idea of sewing leather was scary to me, so I hemmed and hawed a lot, but eventually I got through it! I had a swath of green leather from years ago, waiting for an interesting project so when my friend asked to make a book cover for her to keep records of her weaving endeavors, I decided now was the time.

leather_book_cover_1

I had the feather inspiration from Maureen Cracknell Handmade, and used hers as an outline. My version is intentionally not as delicate as hers with the idea that the chunky-ness would work well with the leather. Now that it is done, I am not so sure, but I would rather not copy someone else’s work exactly anyway.

leather_book_cover_2

My first hang up was cutting the leather itself. See, as I mentioned, this was stored in my closet for years, so it wound up with some creases and wrinkles. Can you iron leather? I am not sure – the internet says yes and no, so I tried a few methods on some scrappy edges and just couldn’t tell if it was working or not. Another problem is the nature of the leather itself – there are parts of it that just do not lay flat because that was not how the leather grew… I did have enough of it where I could cut a fairly flat piece out, so that is what I did (it was not the way I would cut if I was trying to get the most out of my yardage, if you know what I mean!). I will say it cut like butter, though:)

leather_book_cover_3

I used my rectangle hoop to stitch the feather onto the leather after I had embroidered it. I delayed here for a long while also because I was not sure how I wanted to do the outline. I tried a few methods on a scrap piece, and settled on using an outline stitch that I had just properly learned for the Zelda crest mug rug I recently made. I did vary between six and three strands, but you can’t really tell. I am still learning embroidery, you know. Plus, I could not find a hand-sewing leather needle that was straight. Mine was not only gently curved at the tip (a feature I actually fell in love with and will search for embroidery needles of like kind) but also had a 90 degree bend before the eye. That made the motions a bit trickier, as you can imagine.

leather_book_cover_4 leather_book_cover_5

Then, I delayed even longer yet because I was not sure my machine would appreciate sewing through leather. I did buy heavy duty needles, but since they did not specifically state “for use with leather”, nor did they have a cutting shape to their point, I was concerned – but it was all I could find at the store. Lucky for me, my leather was very thin and supple, so as long as I went slowly over where the leather was folded, it sewed great! I used my little clothespins to hold the layers together. Since both the leather and fabric was thin, I used a heavy-weight stabilizer to make it feel sturdy, and a brown ribbon for the marker.

leather_book_cover_6

I used my quick & dirty method so I only had to sew two straight lines, adjusting for the size of the notebook obviously. I only chose this method because I didn’t want to put my machine through any more torture than necessary.

leather_book_cover_11

I included a standard composition book; in the event she fills one up and needs to add another, it will be easy for her to find a notebook that fits.

leather_book_cover_9 leather_book_cover_8

It feels really nice in your hands! The leather gives a nice grip but is so very soft!

leather_book_cover_10

And now, I embark on another hexagon project! Yay! This was the first time I have ever cut squares in bulk – I felt like a quilter. While cutting, I asked myself if I would like to quilt yet – my family all does it so maybe I should join them. But the idea of having to cut more than this tiny stack (which felt monstrous while cutting) still has me holding off on that venture… for now.

fabric_stack