Sunday, May 31, 2009

Feeling a Little Shady

This weekend we made the Roman Shade for the kitchen! The windows in our house are not a standard size, thus the standard Roman shades you can get at Target and other retailers would not fit. It was either order a custom (read: expensive) shade or make one. By now you should know that Nate & I are cheap so we went with the "make one" selection.

The other great thing about this project was that we didn't have instructions! Can you believe it? So we did a little reverse engineering looking at a Roman shade my mom provided us. Here is what we did in case you ever want to make one:

Fabric: Our window (42" by 40") required a yard and a half of fabric that was 45" wide
Drapery cord (can be found at Jo-Ann Fabrics)
3 Eyehole screws (can be found at Lowe's)
1x2 board that is the length of the width of your window (42" in our case)
3/16" in Dowels, also cut to be the width of your window- Our window required 5 (can be found at Lowe's)
Coordinating thread
Staple gun

Measure your window (duh). Our window measured 42" across and 40" tall. Thus a 45" material would work well. I ordered 2 yards to be on the safe side.

The first thing I did was sew seams along the length of each side of the fabric so that the width was correct. After doing that, we made a pocket at the top of the fabric for a 1x2x42" piece of wood that would serve to anchor the shade. We used a staple gun to staple the fabric to the board for extra security, on the backside so they wouldn't be visible. We measured 9" from the bottom of this pocket to place our first dowel. We created 3/4" pockets for each of the dowels, spaced 9 inches apart. After all of the dowel pockets were created, the back of the shade will look like this:

After that, we cut a small hole in the top of the fabric in 3 places to place the eyehole screws. There are two eyehole screws on whatever side you want the cords to be and one eyehole screw on the other side. Nate used the drill to drill holes through the board to make screwing in the eyeholes easier. After that, it will look like this on one end (our left side):

After the eyeholes were screwed in, we used a awl to pierce the fabric behind each of the dowel pockets the same amount of space from the side that they eyeholes were. So our eyeholes were in 3" from the side, then each hole punched in the dowel pocket (but not through the actual dowel) was 3" from the side. Then it was time to run the cording. The first piece of cording has to go through the 2 eyeholes across the top, through the single eyehole, then get threaded down through each hole you just punched in the fabric. We had to use a large sewing needle to thread the cord through each hole. When you get to the last hole (closest to the bottom of your shade), knot the cord. Then, take a second piece of cording and run it through the 2 eyeholes and then immediately down that side of the shade, through the holes. You should have two long cord ends coming out of your shade through the 2 eyeholes - one of those cords running across the top down the right side of your shade and then one of those cords running immediately down the left side of your shade. We recycled the old cord ends from our honeycomb shade for the roman shade, Martha Stewart has a tutorial on using just about any found object for cord ends here.

Test pulling the cords before hanging your shade to make sure it works before hanging!

Now to hang the shade - we had two L-brackets already up that were holding the honeycomb shade up. We set the board on top of these L-brackets and screwed the board to them. This ended up looking and working really nicely.
And voila:

Close up of the print:

It is definitely an improvement over this:

The new shade also lets some light through, which contributes to more light, always a good thing!

This project cost us approximately $9, which does not include the cost of fabric because I used a gift certificate to buy that, and also does not include the cost of the board (we recycled one from something else), or drapery cord ends (also recycled). Basically the $9 was the cost of the dowels, eyehole screws and drapery cord. This project took us about 3 hours, mostly b/c I had to re-sew a crooked pocket and because we were figuring out what to do as we went along.
Back to the list:

  1. Sand cabinents, wood putty any existing holes

  2. Prime cabinets

  3. Paint cabinets

  4. Change cabinet hardware

  5. Change countertops

  6. Install sink and garbage disposal

  7. Install subway tile backsplash

  8. Install new microwave

  9. Remove upper cabinets that divide kitchen & dining area

  10. Paint pantry doors and install new door hardware

  11. Build and install cookbook shelf

  12. New light fixtures

  13. Make and install roman shade in window

  14. Install gas shut off valve

  15. New range/oven

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Peek Inside of how Dorky Our Lives REALLY are

Well, I can't start the weekend off in a slump - The Smiths have been helping me perk up a bit (or is that the coffee??!).

I DO have to confess a new guilty pleasure we have. While we wait for Weeds Season 4(4 more days!), we have discovered So You Think You Can Dance. I think this show is in its 5th season, so like everything else TV-related, we are late to the game. But, better late than never. I have laughed so hard at episodes of this both Wednesday and Thursday nights, even though it hurt to laugh b/c of the aforementioned Wii Fit workout.

I told Nate last night that I would go to an audition for the show and perform my Mamma Mia dance on live TV just to make him laugh. It at least is better than Shakiro - the male Shakira - the video of which I am JUST WAITING to be on YouTube. I also do a killer impression of Daniel Dorough's dance as well. I REALLY wanted dance lessons as a kid and used to make up routines to Paula Abdul using my mom's marroon boombox hooked up to an extension cord. Now I just live vicariously throuhg a bad Fox TV show. Oh such fun...

Warning: Using this post to Whine

BLECH. That is how I have felt this week. A combination of things contributed to this feeling:
1) I got lazy and took too many days off after my half-marathon. There is a fine line (that I always manage to cross) between taking a few refresher/rest days and becoming lazy after a race.

2) Memorial day food kicked my a**. I ate so much food, it makes me full just thinking about it. First there was the McDonald's cheeseburger I had for a "snack" on the way to Madison. Then in Madison I had a hamburger and a brat and some salads...and a few Spotted Cows. Follow that with not one but TWO bacon egg and cheese biscuits the day after...spinach, feta and mozzarella pizza and BUTTERY garlic knots at Sal's for dinner...breakfast casserole and not one but FOUR sticky buns...BLECH.

3)I have noticed in recent pictures that my teeth look noticably yellow. Years of the IV coffee drip throughout the weekdays (and let's face it, weekends) have finally caught up with me.

Every run that I have went on this week has been pathetic. It's as if I can feel those sticky buns jiggling behind me and I haven't been able to make it more than 3 miles without stopping. I tried new routes...all that got me was a new "favorite house" to move into. I tried running old routes backwards. I tried reading Runners World, which is all recycled "news", but often motivates me. None of my usual parlor tricks have worked.

Then, I pulled out the Wii fit two nights ago to do some of their strength exercises. Whoever designed the Wii Fit messages should be shot. Talk about digging a deeper hole. "Hello Amy! Your last workout was 232 days ago! You have gained 2.6 lbs. Please choose a reason why you gained this weight! Your leg is a little shaky. Strengthening your core is important for good posture!" BLECH. Two days later I am still sore from my wii fit workout, which sneaks up on you. You think, "Oh 40 hip twists...that's not so bad! Why are these even a workout...these are EASY". Next day, you can barely walk b/c your hips burn so badly.

I also started using Listerine White Strips before bed every night this week. I found a stash of them (I think they were from AH right before our wedding!) and they don't seem to have an expiration date on them so I'm trying them in an effort to whiten the coffee stained teeth.

I will keep chugging along with the running, knowing this too shall pass. In the meantime, BLECH.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Book It: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

I am currently trying to read this book, my second attempt. I made it 30 pages before giving up during attempt #1. I now am at page 150ish and I think I am abandoning ship for the 2nd and final time. Half of my friends on Goodreads loved this and the other half did not. If you want it, leave a comment and I will send it to you if you live in the continental United States.

You've come a long way baby!

Our downstairs bedrooms (aka the library and office) are often last on the home to-do list. The first 6-9 months we were in our house they basically were glorified storage rooms.

This is the library when we first moved in:

Thankfully we got rid of that nasty brown carpet and the shelves ASAP. Over time we added some curtains, shelves, chairs and a piano:

Then over the weekend, I was looking at rugs and found a new rug on super clearance for $25. I thought it was very library-ish and the library was transformed once more:

The furniture needs some work but it is gradually coming together.

The office is the smallest room in our house. It started out looking like this:

After ripping out the green carpet, painting the walls, making some cornices, we had this:

The problem with this bed is that it basically takes up the whole room. The computer and desk are behind the doorway and that is it. Also, the bed isn't used very often. We took the rug that was in the library (see above pictures) and moved it to this room and moved the bed so that it looked more like a daybed. The floor space is great for when I need to cut out fabric for projects (which I was doing on the living room floor).

The computer and desk are on the other side of the room and not able to be viewed.
Both of these rooms are very hard to photograph because of their angled doorways from the hallway.

So there you have it - what we accomplished with $25 over the weekend!

Definition of Debonair

Check out this suave stud!

(aka Nate-O in his $40 Oscar de la Renta 3-piece suit)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Patch Master Really is "The Master"

Before we go "play" for the weekend, we got some yard work done.

First, we had a low-hanging tree branch that needed to be cut down. Nate's parents let us borrow this "chain saw on a stick" thing that got the job done. We now have a bunch of firewood for S'mores this weekend and 3 1/2 buckets of yard waste. The view of our house improved too:

We also needed to patch repair much of our lawn. We bought a bag Scott's Patch Master a few weeks back to test of part of front yard hill. It worked beautifully so we headed to Lowe's to get a few more bags. We highly recommend using this, especially if you, like us, have a yard that gets a lot of shade and may be on a hill.

Here is one of the before spots:

After applying the mix, you do have to live with your yard looking like this for up to 2 weeks:

We are really pleased with how our yard is coming. My mom and John both said that it looked really great! Here are some more yard shots from this beautiful sunny day we are enjoying today in WI:

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Friday, May 22, 2009

I loved DC...but my heart belongs in MKE

I spent the past 2 1/2 days in Washington, DC for a work conference. Most of this time was unfortunately spent in an over-air-conditioned hotel for the conference, but I got out yesterday evening and early this morning for a run. (SIDE NOTE: WHY in times when so many companies are in a deficit, amidst energy crises, etc does every public building BLAST cold air? I couldn't find one person that was actually made more comfortable by all of the air conditioning!)

I tried to see as many monuments as I could in this short time period, so I ran with my map and camera. I have been to DC and the monuments before, but I still think they are incredible every time I see them.

It was interesting going at two very different times - my evening experience was pretty crowded with tourists, including kids that pulled the "run forrest" line on me. This morning, however, I was the only person at several of the monuments, which was pretty incredible.

The woman I sat next to on the plane was originally from WI and is currently living in DC. She said she was envious that I was living in WI and that she couldn't wait to come back. "There's just something about it". FOR SURE!

For example, Nate picked me up from the airport tonight and we decided to check out Retique, a new "boutique" featuring secondhand clothing and run by Goodwill. They opened yesterday in the 3rd ward, MKE's trendy area, so we decided to check it out. Trendy indeed - whoever thought up the concept of the Goodwill boutique was a GENIUS. There were fancy chocolates, wine and cheese to nibble on while you shopped for other people's castaways amidst a lofty type space. And boy did we find some goodies...Nate has been looking for a 3-piece suit for a while, but hasn't really wanted to splurge. (His job requires him to wear a suit everyday). He found a BRAND NEW (we're talking TAGS STILL ON) 3-piece Oscar de la Renta suit at Retique, in his size, and a perfect fit for $39.99!! The closest we could figure from googling the style number was that it retailed for $800! I didn't do too badly myself - a brand new J.Crew dress (the tags were also still on it) for $12.99 and a wool lined pair of BR trousers for $10. And because my sister and I joined Club Goodwill once upon a time, we saved an additional 5% on the purchase. I highly recommend Retique if you are in/near MKE, and apparently they also have these in Portland, New York, Seattle, and San Francisco!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Heart Cragslist...and SUMMER!!!

Last night we made $80 on our old microwave through Craigslist. Thank you Craig for inventing such a service.

Posting will be light for the remainder of the week/weekend as I am headed to DC for work for a few days and then the glory that is Memorial Day weekend is here!! I am bound and determined to wakeboard, even if I have to don the Scuba Steve wetsuit.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Alleluia, The Tile is DONE! (Well, Almost)

This morning we installed the new shelf that Nate built to the right of the microwave and finished the tiling! We had to place one last special tile order through Lowe's to get the finished top edge and side edge pieces and they came in yesterday!

Obviously we have to grout after the tile adhesive dries, but for the most part the tiling is done!

Because I love crossing stuff off the list:

  1. Sand cabinents, wood putty any existing holes

  2. Prime cabinets

  3. Paint cabinets

  4. Change cabinet hardware

  5. Change countertops

  6. Install sink and garbage disposal

  7. Install subway tile backsplash

  8. Install new microwave

  9. Remove upper cabinets that divide kitchen & dining area

  10. Paint pantry doors and install new door hardware

  11. Build and install cookbook shelf

  12. New light fixtures

  13. Make and install roman shade in window

  14. Install gas shut off valve

  15. New range/oven

Yesterday was a big day!

Yesterday was a big day for Ryan & Karen, whose wedding we attended. It was at Holy Hill, a beautiful location for a wedding ceremony. My bro-in-law took a picture of us right ouside the basicila. No there wasn't a flock of seagulls reunion, the wind and my hair were not cooperating!

Before the wedding, I went to the Friends of Hoyt Park Sporting Goods Resale, hoping to find a bike for myself. The only bikes I found were for my 3-year old niece, who is coming away with 2 bikes and 1 scooter for $14 - what a deal!

Yesterday was also a big day for my friends BLK and CAP who graduated! Congrats Ladies!!!

And finally, MLH turned the big 1 yesterday. I made him these crazy quilted blocks to play with.

I have seen these in the blogosphere and on etsy, but used Amy Butler's instructions from Little Stitches for Little Ones. They called for some extra craziness with mixing smaller squares and stripes. The instructions call for using just 3 different coordinating fabrics, which I did not do - I used my fabric collection in a variety of colors and prints. I figured they would at least be more interesting to look at then! For those of you who want to tackle this project, I have included very abbreviated instructions below:

Material Needed for 9 blocks:
AB gives you these requirements: 3/8 yard each of 3 different prints, 3/8 yard of a solid fabric and 1/4 yard of a second solid. Or you can do what I did and use your own stash of fabrics.

You need to cut 72 squares measuring 2 3/4" by 2 3/4"
36 rectangles measuring 2 1/8" x 4 1/2"
18 rectangles measuring 2 1/4" x 4 1/2"
and 18 squares measuring 4 1/2" x 4 1/2"

When you have everything cut, take the 72 little squares into groups of four and sew them together like a checkerboard. You will have 18 squares measuring 4 1/2" x 4 1/2when you are done with this. (use 1/2" seams and I cannot emphasize enough to PRESS your seams after each sew. Yes, this is putzy and takes a while, but it is worth it!).

Then you take 2 of the 36 rectangles and 1 of the 18 rectangles and sew them together to create the striped block side, with the 2 1/4" x 4 1/2" rectangle in the middle of the other 2 rectangles. You will end up with 18 of these blocks measuring 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" when finished.

After all of this sewing and pressing, you will have 18 blocks that look like checkerboards, 18 striped blocks and your 18 original squares that you cut to be 4 1/2 x 4 1/2. Each block with require 2 squares from each of these groups to be sewn together. Take a checkerboard (CB) and a stripe (ST) and sew them together, leaving about a 1/2" unsewn on each end. (This will be necessary when you go to sew the top and bottom on.) Then take a checkerboard and sew it to the stripe side and another stripe to sew to that checkerboard. You will have a strip of 4 squares: CB + ST + CB + ST. Make a loop and sew the ST side to the first CB. Then take your solid squares and sew them to the top and bottom, leaving about 2 inches unsewn so you can stuff the squares. You will have to hand sew them closed. Repeat 9 times and you will have 9 blocks!

As I said, this is abbreviated from the 4 pages of instructions and helpful diagrams that are in the book, which I got from our local library. Otherwise, check out several sellers on Etsy!

Now I am off to finish tiling!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009


The next person I know that becomes pregnant will be getting one of these:

The pattern is from Lotta Jansdotter's new book: Simple Sewing for Baby. Craft has made a PDF tutorial available for the Snuggler today!! Seamstresses click here.
Photo from Craft

Label Love

Today I tackled some piles on my desk at work and labeled a few folders and notebooks. I function much better at work when stuff is organized.

Lucky for me there are a lot of fun, FREE, downloadable labels out there:

All of the above available for download at Poppytalk

The above labels can be accessed on MerMag as featured on Decor8.

Another organizational thing that I am wanting to tackle is putting bookplates in my book collection. I have A LOT of books so this is a daunting task that likely won't occur this weekend, as our wedding season kicks off. If you are interested in bookplates for your books, here are some fun ideas:
SFGIRLBYBAY has a variety of free bookplates for you to peruse.

Goodhousekeeping has some simple printable templates.

And of course Martha has some free templates for bookplates available.

There are pages upon pages of bookplates available for purchase on Etsy as well. Some of my favorites include cricicis, Icings Prints, Avie, and ModernClassicsKids for children's books. Given my collection, I think the free downloads from Martha will be where it's at for me.

Photos from Poppytalk, MerMag, and Martha Stewart.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New 'Do...or 'Don't

Yesterday morning (hence why I look so tired) I looked like this:

Last night I came home looking like this:

And this morning:

I haven't really decided if I like it. Some of my excitement was immediately deflated upon getting to the salon and having them tell me that the appointment I booked was actually with someone in their Mequon location. I explained that I won the haircut and that I told them that when I called and that it was specifically only good for the MKE location. The receptionist was really nice and said this sometimes happens since they have a central booking location. She said she would find someone to do my haircut. (I think she saw the sad state that was my hair and said, "Damn, this girl needs a haircut STAT").

Minutes later Kacie was there to save the day. There wasn't time to do the glossing treatment because the haircut took over an hour. She was very meticulous, which I was happy with given that my current stylist sent me home with crooked hair once. I think I will definitely go back to Kacie.

She was halfway through the haircut when I said, "Ok. now I'm nervous".

At least hair grows back. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

That's right...I'm still celebrating Gone with The Wind's 70th Birthday

If you are a Gone With the Wind fan, this is a great article emailed to me by an old friend/colleage from graduate school after reading my initial Gone With the Wind post.

Photo from our first summer in our house when we were dismantling the living room - My mom said I should have made dresses out of the curtains a la Scarlett O'Hara.


Nate often calls me DQ. Not Dairy Queen - Drama Queen. I do have a tendency for the dramatic, I will admit, as this story will demonstrate.

I noted during my recap of the half marathon i ran at the beginning of the month that I really needed new running shoes. Thankfully, my mom picked up a new pair of Saucony Hurricanes for me when she went to Road Runner Sports Clearance Store in San Diego. I have only been on two runs since the half because I have been having this heel pain on my right foot. Well of course I was reading up on plantar fasciitis and any articles that "heel pain" would produce in the runner's world injury prevention section. Then I thought that maybe something wasn't right with the new shoes. AHHH!

Well, over a week later, I finally decided to look at my foot. I am not exactly sure why I didn't do this the FIRST DAY I noticed the pain. Duh! I had a huge splinter in the exact location of the pain! I have a bad habit of walking outside barefoot, and with our new mulch/woodchips, likely got a piece of one in my foot. A few minutes of minor foot surgery in our bathroom this morning and a HUGE dab of neosporin should take care of it.

I think I can get back to my normal running now. ha ha ha

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Movie Reviews

The Wrestler.

No, we did not rent this solely b/c Bruce Springsteen wrote the title track for this film. I really did want to see the movie. I have this odd fascination with Mickey Rourke. I just do not understand how someone can go from looking like this (circa 1986 in 9 1/2 Weeks):

to this (circa 2009 in The Wrestler):

Regardless, The Wrestler is a great movie, although there were some brutal scenes that i could not watch. Those of you who have seen Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream will recall a few scenes of that movie that were also turn your head from the tv worthy. I also highly recommend listening to Bruce through the credits, although I may be biased. ;)

Mamma Mia

One of my favorite musicals, which Nate took me to see when we first started dating. I was impressed with the female characters, and the scenery of Greece but whoever thought Pierce Brosnan could sing, should be fired. I realize that Pierce was blessed in the looks department and is a swoon worthy Sam for Meryl Streep's Donna, but seriously? There weren't any other good looking middle-aged men that could sing? None? As is true with most musicals turned into movies, the movie never compares to the real thing for me, but it was an entertaining movie and had the songs stuck in my head for a few days after. It also made me miss Moose, our family dog that passed away, because he was a big fan of Super Trooper.

BTW, please excuse the fluff lately...we ARE working on finishing the kitchen...but nothing to report as of now.

Thought for Tuesday

At a recent outing to see Southbound (bringing back the college years), we witnessed a woman in full out black stirrup pants, dancing up a storm. My friends and I didn't know whether to think it was awesome or awful. We resolved to laughing, and glimpsing over at her every couple of minutes to make sure we really hadn't had too many cocktails, and were not hallucinating them. Apparently Stirrups are back, along with the Hammer Pants.

Ladies, in my opinion, "you can't touch this" either. Key word in the card above: survived. Past tense. Meaning: OVER.

Photo: Card from Naughty Betty as seen on The Roadside Scholar

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pajamas for a 3 year old

Keeping up with my homemade gift pledge for 2009, I finally finished the pajamas for my niece, started over 2 months ago. They are for her birthday, which was also a couple of weeks ago, but we will see her for the first time since then this morning!

(Yes, that is the John Deere logo. My brother is a farmer and has loved John Deere since about the age of 2. She is definitely her daddy's girl.)

I used this pattern for the shirt and bought an ez sew pajama pattern from Jo-Ann for the pants, but added the matching cuff trim. After I had already started using these, I got Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones book from the library and there is a pattern for the exact same thing in there, which I think probably would have been easier. I had a hard time with the pants, especially, even though I have made a couple of pairs of adult pants, the pattern was not the same. I figured it out eventually. I hope she likes them! If not, we are also giving her some dog stickers. :)