Sunday, December 9, 2012

Partial Kitchen Remodel - Almost Done

Here are the after photos.  We realized afterwards that we wanted to tweak the cabinets a little bit.

Cabinets up, window woodwork in place on one window

Another view, with the second window still missing its woodwork

Here is the area we want to tweak (Update: see here for tweaking).  The middle cabinet is a bit too high for reaching and there is too much space between the bottom of it and the sink.  We looked to see if the company made a longer one, but they don't.  So Paul figured out a way to make it work a lot better, and give us some light too.  Stay Tuned!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Partial Kitchen Remodel - During

Here are the photos of the kitchen wall during the remodeling process.

Insulation and some wallboard

Wallboard up and electrical boxes

Wallboard completed

Taping of the wallboard

Woodwork for windows and door, stained and polyurethaned, drying in the basement

Partial Kitchen Remodel - Before Gutting

Here is the next batch of pictures relating to our kitchen remodel.  These show the horrid, knotty pines coming down, and some really old wallpaper behind them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Just Too Cute

My grandson is a delight.  He loves costumes more than anything in this world.  His latest obsession is Link, a character from a video game.  All this Thanksgiving weekend, when he was in Michigan with Mama, he kept saying that he wanted Da to make him a shield for his Link costume.  The minute he came home today, he was on him to make it, pausing for a playdate with one of his beloved "gwelfwends" (his way of saying girlfriends!), but the minute she left nothing would do but for Da to make the shield.  Tyler helped, and it was a fun project with tools.

Da came through; the boy is happy:

He set the shield down reluctantly for violin practice, but insisted on wearing his glove, hat, and slingshot:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Partial Kitchen Remodel - Before

Our kitchen is undergoing a big change.  Not a complete remodel; that will be for the future as time and funds allow.  But we needed to re-wallboard the area below our two new windows.  It was a project that was going to be put off for a long time.  But then we decided to try refinancing our mortgage (still waiting on that; the appraisal came back lower than what it should be, and we are appealing it with the bank in an "Appraisal Desk Review"), and we had to have the house in the best shape it could be for that.  Paul and I discussed simply replacing the missing wallboard, but (with "gentle prodding" from me) were convinced it would be better to replace the whole wall.  We could then insulate, add electrical outlets/move to better locations, and most important: get rid of the horrid, knotty pine paneling and upper cabinets. 

The window wall before.  Note aforesaid horrid, knotty pine paneling and cabinets.  The windows were too long to place base cabinets below.  We will get to reconfiguring the dishwasher and sink cabinets in the future.  

This is our old, metal, 1950's base cabinet.  It is not in the best condition, or I might like it more.  This will have to stay in place for now.  You can sort of see the old knotty pines above it (And a hand with a measuring tape - this photo was taken in 2009, when we were contemplating re-doing this same area, but without the trouble and expense of replacing the windows with ones that would suit proper base cabinets.  We were getting measurements and photos to bring to the store.  We vetoed the idea and opted to wait until we could get the new windows).

Stay tuned for more progress pictures!

Vintage Baking - Mom's Sweet Potato Pie

We had a very nice Thanksgiving.  We met with extended family early in the afternoon, then returned home for our own Thanksgiving.  Paul and I made sweet potato pies using my mom's recipe.

The recipe, in mom's handwriting (sniff, dabs eyes)

The filling

Paul forming the piecrust

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Too much of it, that is.  We are doing a partial remodel on our kitchen (photos to follow in another post).  We had to empty cupboards into boxes.  While packing them up, I realized how much unused stuff there was hiding in the backs of the cabinets.  It will not re-enter the kitchen.  I will have a lot to give away once we begin unpacking.  I tend to be a pack rat sometimes.  I want this to stop!  It is time for a major purge of the whole house.  How tidy everything will be then!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vintage 1940's Dress - Simplicity 1571

This is a dress I made a few years back.  I am posting it for a friend who asked about scalloped necklines.  This dress is from a vintage Simplicity dress from the 1940's.  I have the belt on it backwards because I need to re-do the buckle!  The dress has a side zipper to ease getting it over the shoulders.

The Pattern (I want to live like these ladies!)

The Dress (honestly, dress forms make one look so big.  Surely I am not that big in real life?!)

A close up of the bodice and scallops

Close up of the buttons

Put on your green floral hat, your sensible 1940's shoes, and your gloves and handbag.  You are ready to conquer the world!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Downton Abbey Dress - Finished!

Here is the finished dress.  I was (as usual) literally sewing minutes before the event.  Paul and my friend helped set up for the event while I finished.  I liked this pattern a lot.  It went together well with only one snafu (something weird with the way the underbodice and overbodice armholes went together, i.e., they didn't, and I had to adjust the seams).  I never did get to doing the armhole seam finishing, and only did a basting of the hem (I will remedy these issues later), but the dress was ready to go, just in the nick of time!  The Musicale went very well.  Four ladies performed, and a lovely tea was enjoyed after the performance.  

Before and After - Home Improvement Style (With Trompe l'oeil)!

Last October I had posted about replacing our kitchen windows here.  We finally have the north side of our house re-sided and painted.  Here are two comparison pictures (with Tyler!):

Before photo, windows installed but not painted.

After, windows painted, siding up and painted!

Paul also need to figure out a way to deal with the crawlspace door below the porch area.  We had tried hinging the door, but the gusty winter winds blew it off the hinges.  So Paul figured out a way to rest the door on the concrete lip of the crawlspace, and used movable clips at the top to hold it against the wall.  Then he did a very creative trompe l'oeil to blend it into the rest of the exterior wall:

Side by side withe the real window

Close up view

Talented, creative man he is!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cutting and Fitting

I made the toile for the bodice of the Downton Abbey Dress.  The fit is nice, but may need some refinements before I am totally done.  I then started the long, laborious process of cutting out the lining, dress, and overlay yesterday.  We were so busy today with other projects that I did not get to sew.  But here is the bodice fabric with the curtain material laid over it.  I was checking to see how I wanted the overlay pattern to lay on the fabric:

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Downton Abbey Dress

I have a tea event coming up in a week and a half.  I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with an idea for an historical reproduction dress to wear for it.  I wanted something reminiscent of the costumes in the series Downton Abbey (gorgeous costumes).  I already had a net overlay with a scalloped hem (actually it is an embroidered  net curtain I found on sale at a home store years ago, saving for an occasion such as this!).  I perused my pattern stash, found two gowns that were really appropriate, but too much trouble as far as making complex toiles (samples of the dress or bodice in scrap fabric to check fit - always a good idea, and will be done for the gown I ended up picking as well), and probably taking loads of time that I do not have.  I finally settled on Laughing Moon # 104, 1909-1913 Day or Evening Dress.  It is not a hard pattern, and I will make a few small changes to suit me.  Today I went to Joann's.  I was originally thinking of a gold fabric to go under the overlay, but then I found this celery green fabric that looks gorgeous underneath it.  I also got a small amount of rose colored fabric for a sash.  

I washed my lining muslin, and began the tedious task of tracing out the pattern in my size on Bosal Create-a-Pattern.  Tomorrow I will make my first toile of the bodice.  Since the bodice is not tightly fitted, it should be an easy task (I hope).  I am so excited about this dress!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Playing on Lyn's Harp

As I work on two new, difficult pieces, I went to a lesson with my long time harp teacher, Lyn.  She owns a harp that I greatly admire.  After the lesson, she was looking at my cell phone, and decided it would be a great time to take a picture of me (not!).  If I had known, I would have dressed up.  But the harp is definitely ready for its close-up:

A Lily in the Evening

At a recent trip to the Chicago Botanical Gardens, we saw (and smelled!) this lovely lily:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Scenes of Summer

I had friends over for an afternoon of Mah Jong.  I wanted to have a pretty tableau.  Kristin and I went to Fresh Market for food, and found summery yellow flowers and sun-kissed peaches.  Kristin especially liked the look of the Doughnut Peaches.  The table was pretty, the food yummy, the game fun, and the company was delightful!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Corset Cover Completed Embroidery

Here is the machine-embroidery for the corset cover front, all completed and pressed.  Of course, it doesn't look like much now, as the fronts are mostly shapeless due to needing extra fabric around the edges in order to do the scalloped edging.  The actual sewing on this project doesn't concern me, even the tucks and whatnot.  It's the scallops and the buttonholes at the neck for the ribbon to pass through that have me nervous!

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Style for Long Hair

I wanted to post a new hairstyle I tried recently.  It is like a "Heidi Braid" (crown braid), but without the difficulty of doing what is basically a French braid all around the head.  For this one I braided the hair, angling it off to the side for easier wrapping, then circled it around my head and bobby-pinned it into place.  Add floral embellishment as desired.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Embroidering the Corset Cover

I finally made some progress on my Edwardian corset cover.  I cut out the fabric, tracing the cutting lines for the neckline and armholes and leaving extra fabric extending beyond the cutting line in preparation for finishing the edges with machine scalloping (the extra fabric will then be cut away along the edges of the scallops).  Here's progress so far:

The Pattern

Cut out and ready to start.  Note the extra fabric left on the armhole and neck edges (this is to make the sewing of the scallops easier, then the excess fabric is cut away along the edge of the scallops).  Also ignore the extra black lines where the scallops are traced on the pattern.  The pattern is drawn on the original with the scallops set for the small size.  I had to hand-draw the scallops in for my size so they would be symmetrical.  

Embroidering.  I used one of the designs on the Brother Embroidery Card #23 (Linen & Lace).  It was tricky, because I had to do a mirror-image for the other side of the front of the corset cover (never did that before with my machine!). 

Now, if I can ever get to ironing the pieces I will post a photo of the completed embroidery.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cook Outs, Frosty Drinks, and Gardening!

It's finally the season for it.  After a very cold spring we are now enjoying fine weather (actually, at times, too hot, and very abruptly too).  Here's what we've been up to:

Paul manning the grill.

Our drinks: Sgroppino (Italian cocktail). Giada de Laurentiis' recipe here.

Hummingbird Garden plants, ready to be planted.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A New Tea Kettle

The old one bit the dust.  But I just love the new one!  It has one-touch controls for the different temperatures for the different types of teas.  And it will keep the water warm for a half hour.  This will make my Tea Lady gatherings much easier!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Barbara's Surprise Party

My nephew planned a special birthday surprise for my sister Barbara.  And she was surprised!  It was a lovely party.

Completely surprised!

Happy Barbara

Delicious cake for a landmark occasion

Robert Off to the Prom

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Preparing To Sew

I am finally getting some time, motivation, and inspiration to sew again.  I have decided not to pressure myself, just take it as it comes.  Before I began though, I had some tidying up to do.  As you may recall, I had done an enormous organization of my sewing stash (see here and here).  Over the past year however, small things have gotten misplaced or not re-homed.  So I had my Current Projects basket filled to the brim with stuff.  I wanted very much to begin cutting out Past Patterns 108: Four Edwardian Corset Covers, which I had traced in my size, mapped embroidery for, and in general figured out the best way to proceed with this.  But I couldn't stand the bit of chaos in the basket, as well as spools of thread not put away, and other notions, purchased but not put into their boxes.  There was also mending that has been needed to be done for months.

Here's what I did:

  1. Unearthed my sewing machine table from under a pile of papers that had ended up on top of it.
  2. Gathered all of the corset making supplies lying here and there and put them back in the corset-making box (more on my decision to not make my own corset in an upcoming post).
  3. Gathered all patterns lying about (some are new e-Bay finds), determined how many new file folders I would need to get them properly put away, realized I was all out of folders, later went to Office Depot for a new box.
  4. Put all spools of thread away.  Then, in a completely disturbing fashion, proceeded to sort the thread into color families AND to put them in order of Roy G. Biv (spectrum of colors: reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos, violets), plus my row of pinks, grays, browns, blacks, and whites.  
  5. Put away the notions.  While I did this I got out the notions I would actually need for starting my project (tracing wheels and paper, scissors, tape measure, embroidery supplies).  
  6. Mopped the area around my sewing machine.
  7. Mended Kristin's pants, a kitchen towel, and then turned two pair of Tyler's school pants (that were hopelessly torn at the knees) into school shorts, just in time for warm weather!
Of course, after all of this there was no time left to actually sew, but I am pleased that all is tidy now.  It seems to clear my head.  While at Office Depot, I also realized that if I bought a bigger box, I could put all of my machine embroidery supplies, including the embroidery arm, in one easy place.  I will need to lay all out to get a good measurement for the perfect sized box.  

I hope to have some corset-cover-making photos soon.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Scenes From Springtime

Here are a few recent photos of what we have been up to this spring.

Easter Sunday: Tyler, Robert, Kristin, Paul, Celeste (Julie is missing, but was very lucky to be in Florida!)

Lilacs from our garden - they smelled heavenly!

A recent fondue supper - a favorite for our family, even Tyler!