Spring is ALMOST here!

Hello!

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hello… (crickets)

Hey, tiny group of people who read the stuff I post to the internet…um, sorry. Man, this family gets in a rut in the wintertime (and we don’t even have a real winter– it’s Tennessee for crap’s sake). I think I’ve been waiting for a big moment to write a new post, but instead, I’m just going to sit down and update everyone. I have serious intentions of updating at least bi-weekly now that the weather is warming up.

We haven’t done a whole lot lately, but here I am, about to update on some house stuff. So without too many excuses, here I go.

It’s starting to look like spring in East Tennessee. I have a love-hate relationship with the sudden warming and greening and general “new car” smell happening around here. Like, I LOVE it, but I’m also a little worried it’s a sign of impending doom and eventually we’ll all just live in a summery hellscape. BUT, it does allow me to start doing garden and yard stuff in MARCH, so I guess, in the short term, I’ll bask in the glory and forget the terrifying possibilities.

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Sis, enjoying her post as supervisor.

So, two things.

First, the garden is starting to spring to life, and seriously, it’s going to be AMAZING this year. We moved in in 2011 and it was a mess:

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But, year by year, I’ve clawed my way out of the bindweed, the lamb’s ear, the fungus-infested irises, the strangling daylillies, and this, THIS is the summer it will look like the garden was designed by a pro (and not a serious novice who’s been figuring it out as she goes). I spent Saturday moving plants to improve the balance of the garden, and this year, I really think it’ll all fill in so beautifully.

I’ve even thought about lines of sight; when you look out our back door, you’ll see a rose bush (blooming most of the summer) surrounded by yarrow and salvia, covered in hummingbird moths and butterflies. So just imagine this:

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…like that.

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The Boy helping to water in my transplanted rose bush.

Additionally, I’ve been working on a plan for the bedroom. “What?” you ask. “You mean the bedroom where you built the closets? The ones we read about last winter?”

Yeah, that one.

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Hear me out. I loved the navy blue. I really did. I think when we built those closets, I wanted a dramatic way to set them off from the white walls. But honestly, I think maybe the drama gives me anxiety. So, I’m working on a plan for dialing down the drama in the bedroom (well, doesn’t that sound weird…leaving it) and lightening it all up. Here are the reasons:

  1. The navy is lovely but it sucks the light out of the room when we’re reading books at night with our son. The color (Volcanic Ash by Valspar) is still my go-to navy, but it’s just dark, and while I loved the concept, and even the execution, LIVING with it is a different story.
  2. I feel stuck in a blue rut in this room. The ceiling is SO beautiful, but SO blue. It’s got every color of blue you could imagine in it, and it makes me feel, in conjunction with the navy, that I can’t do anything else with it. Which is how I ended up with blue winter pillows in the room.

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3. The blue really doesn’t mesh with the white/grey/charcoal/light blue thing I have going in the rest of the house, and I’m a big fan of repetition throughout a house. I feel a bit assaulted (boy, dramatic much?) every time I go into the room and it doesn’t match the rest of the house.

4. I would like to make the space a little more spring-ish, and I’m struggling with that.

5. I’m just ready for a change.

So, I have plans, and I’m seriously considering joining the One Room Challenge, which is a biannual event where a bunch of well-known bloggers tackle one space and redesign it over the course of six weeks. Additionally, thousands of people with small-time blogs (ME) participate as amateurs. They update weekly (a challenge for me) about their design, their progress, and finally, a reveal. So, that’s my plan: join the amateur ORC and force myself to really re-evaluate what I want from our bedroom space. Additionally, I’ll be working on a budget of like, not much. 🙂 So, fun challenge, given I have no real design skills.

So, that’s what’s up. The challenge doesn’t start til April, but March will be super busy. For one, I’m having surgery for a difficult-to-diagnose honest-to-god bizarre syndrome I appear to have in my ears (you guys, I can hear my eyeballs move) and my co-workers and I are putting together some seriously cool library stuff for our students. I plan to ruminate during March while planning my garden for the year and doing some old house maintenance (constant in a house that’s 117 years old), and then kick some proverbial ass when it comes to the interior come April.

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Thanks for sticking with me and reading, guys. It’s fun to share all my hopes and plans and ideas with you.

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Family Stockings: Done(ish)

I am about to publish this post. It is full of photos taken (poorly) with my iPhone. Let it be known I am not a photographer, I have crappy lighting in my house, I have an unsteady hand with the iPhone, and I’m not a real blogger, just a lady who posts things in case anyone is interested.

Disclaimer over.

I made stockings for everyone except my brother because he isn’t coming down here for Christmas. He’ll get one, too, but my folks will be around a bit sooner than he will be, so theirs were the priority. He doesn’t lack a stocking because he’s less important; he lacks a stocking because his arrival is less imminent. I present our family’s stockings, minus an important person’s, as captured by my iPhone at 8 p.m. last night.

I’m so dang pleased with myself over how they all coordinate. I love the menswear vibe, and the red/black/white/gray color scheme really makes me happy.

Here’s our pretty 2016 mantle.

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And I finished another felt ornament for the 12 Days series. It’s the Turtledove. I’ve done an about face on my plans for the ones I’ll keep, though, so this guy will probably get gifted sometime either this Christmas or after I have a full set of gift ones.

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I’m 100% sure I won’t post again before Christmas, so hope you all have lovely winter holidays!

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Twelve Days of Christmas Ornaments

As I admitted a couple posts ago, I’m really trying to jump on the Christmas decor train this year. However, I’m also really trying not to end up with a house full of purchased Christmas decorations that a) will be out of style tomorrow and b) have no emotional meaning for me. I am almost finished making our stockings, The Boy and I made some cinnamon and glitter ornaments, and now, I’ve started a long-term project to create lots of handmade felt ornaments for our future Christmas trees.

Trolling around Pinterest a couple of weeks ago, I saw a beautiful “Swam A-Swimming” ornament and instantly fell in love. A little digging and I found the website of the lady who designed it, and then learned that she’s working on an entire series of ornaments that represent the Twelve Days of Christmas. The first is the Partridge and Pear, so I ordered the pattern and some pretty wool felt and got to work!

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There’s a lot of intricate embroidery in these things, but they’re fairly easy projects and they look so pretty on the tree! I’m excited to tackle the Turtle Dove, and look forward to the day, months from now (partly because the artist hasn’t finished designing the series), when I have all of them done!

One more look at them together:

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I hope everybody is finding ways to make their holidays special, even if you’re not making anything but memories!

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Menswear-Inspired Stockings

I’ve been kicking around the idea of making our stockings for years, but until I took a class to learn to sew this year, I wasn’t able to. This year, especially since Pete was suggesting it, I decided to make stockings for the whole family!

I wanted a few things out of our stockings. I wanted them to be small enough that they could be filled with a few stocking stuffers, but not so small that you couldn’t put anything good in there. I wanted them to be something we’d like for a long time, so nothing trendy, and I wanted a cozy, mostly cohesive feel about them, but not necessarily for them to all match. Ultimately, I wanted ones that would go with most Christmas decor, but not be super whimsical and make me feel like I lived in Whoville.

After some pondering, I decided I wanted to use fabrics that reminded me of menswear: varying shades of grey, red, black, and white or cream in flannel and wool. I wanted to stick with classic patterns, too, things like herringbone, plaid, houndstooth, and stripes. I found a great tutorial for making stockings, and went to work!

I won’t show much of the process, because it’s the other blogger’s, but just know that it was super easy! The only thing I did differently from her design was to add the applique to the actual body of the stocking instead of the cuff; that’s just a personal preference.

I used different combinations of a bunch of menswear fabrics, including making the hanging loops out of the fabrics. I did line mine and make my letter out of a floral print; these stockings were so handsome, but I wanted mine to be a bit more feminine.

I love them all!

 

 

To make our mantel look special this year, I bought some tiny, battery-operated copper string lights. It helps avoid the whole “string of lights down the side to reach a plug-in” issue, and they looks so pretty and tiny and twinkly!

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I love how the fabrics play against each other, and each one is so soft and cozy and warm.

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The house is mostly decorated for Christmas, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve for more decorations and some gifts, as well. I’ll blog about them as I get them done! Merry Christmas season from the Huffaker House to you all!!

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Fall Pillows

Hey guys!

I have a confession to make: I’ve been slacking. Somehow I haven’t felt very creative lately. Work is nuts, and I’ve been in a bit of a depression over some hearing issues I’ve been having that frequently make singing and even talking uncomfortable. However, my husband pointed out to me recently that if I can’t sing and do all the theatre-y things that keep me sane right now, maybe I need to channel the energy into another creative endeavor. So, last Friday, that’s what I started doing.

I’ve always made fun (as in, poked fun at, not making people cry) of people who go all out decorating for each season. I have a couple aunts who do that, and I give them a hard time about all the RubberMade boxes full of seasonal decorations they own. That said, I’ve always loved going to their houses during the seasons for which they decorate; color me hypocritical. And, as my son grows older and starts to love holidays, I’m starting to feel like maybe they were onto something with the whole “making the house look special” thing. My kid’s only little once, and last night, he wanted to put up the “feefeeshree” (that’s Christmas tree for people who don’t speak gibberish). So, fine, you adorable aunt creatures. You win. I’m in.

That said, I despise the hullabaloo about “decorations”. I hate the stores that sell Christmas decorations in September. I get mad that people are conned into purchasing corn husks at $15 per clump (is that even the right terminology?).

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This shit pisses me off.

That up there? That’s not a natural birch pole. Or rather it is, but where I come from, that’s a freaking branch. (Side note: I love that you can order it online and pick it up in the store…as opposed to picking it up in your yard.)

So, in an effort to do what home bloggers like to call “nesting,” including “warming up the space with texture” and “coziness”, I set out on Friday to make some fall-ish pillows for our bed. I should take this moment to say that when Peter came home and asked me what I had done that afternoon, I said, “I made new throw pillows for the bed.” Having just come from the bedroom, he said, “Our bed?” To which I responded, “Yes, our bed.” He said, “Today? Like they’re in there right now?” And I said, “Yes, right now.”

He paused. And he said, “I would never have noticed.” But upon further inspection, he did choose the herringbone pillow as his favorite.

I think the not noticing came partly from my color choices. I’d had some pretty pillow covers I made from napkins I bought on sale from Anthropologie on the bed since May or so, but I decided to go more neutral and get some cozy flannel material this time around. I still have a couple to make, and I’m hoping to liven it up with a bit of color.

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The materials I chose: a gray and white plaid flannel, a navy and dark green plaid flannel, a grey herringbone flannel, a cream cotton with a mudcloth pattern in blue, and charcoal corduroy for the backs of the pillows.

On Friday, I made two pillow covers (covers only– I don’t have the storage space for actual full-on pillows). First, using this tutorial for creating continuous bias tape, I made piping from the herringbone flannel.

Then, I made an envelope pillow cover for the pillows I already had on the bed using that piping.

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I went ahead and made a pillow cover from the grey plaid the same way, just without piping. Here’s the look so far:

 

I made the two pillow covers on the right, but the navy one on the left is a navy pillow I bought at HomeGoods last year. I was a little disappointed with how the herringbone pillow on the right read from a distance. It’s a really nice pattern, but it’s so small that you can’t tell it’s herringbone (my current pattern obsession) from the doorway. Oh, well. Lessons in home decorating learned.

I’m about halfway done with creating pillow covers for the bed (I know, that’s a lot of pillow covers, but I’m practicing and they’re fun and I like lots of pillows). I like that the neutral pillows can be spread all over the house once I tire of them all being on the bed. The grey herringbone will probably travel upstairs to the guest bedroom.

Making my own “warming up the house” decorations for this fall and winter is a bit of an attempt to walk the walk; I do want to have a warm and cozy house for the winter. I do want to make the kind of home my family and I love coming home to. I do enjoy mixing patterns and colors and fabrics. I don’t enjoy going out and buying thing after thing after thing to try to make that home what I want it, and I really get frustrated with the pressure to buy trendy items that make my home stylish.

So I’m going to try to make what I can this year and see where I get. I have no talent for this kind of thing; I think I am able to think in big pictures when it comes to my house, but the idea that I need to have accessories that get switched out in appealing ways is a bit overwhelming. But others do it; so can I! In a few years, I’ll have the “seasonal decor” thing down, and my son will remember a sweet, cozy home from his childhood and I’ll remember spending my time creating the home we love on a budget we can handle with the right amount of stuff so we don’t have to get a storage facility. 😉

Happy fall, guys! I’ll try to get back next week with a finished set of bed pillows.

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Textiles: My Personal Weak Spot

Shew, it’s been a while. Honestly, we just haven’t been doing THAT much on the house in the last month or so. Peter and I both work in academia, and once that school year gets going…all bets are off for a while.

I’ve been trying not to purchase things for the house lately; you know how sometimes you just reach critical mass and you start looking around for things you could simplify instead of complicate? I think I reached that over the summer and have been trying to hold off on purchases I’ve pondered for a while.

We did buy a rug. Our sweet old lady dog Maggie, who passed away early this year, had ruined a cheap Lowe’s rug that was under our bed, protecting our feet from the cold, old hardwood floors of a 1900 house.

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Poor Miss Maggie: Loved Pete, Destroyed Rugs.

I had tried to fix it with a carpet cleaner, and then a carpet shampooer, but ultimately, we just needed a new rug. After searching, and searching, and searching, we finally both settled on this one in grey from Rugs USA. It was simple, natural fiber, the right size. We bought it and put it in our room and it looked lovely.

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It was pretty and simple and felt great under my feet. And it stayed there approximately 4 hours.

Our other old lady dog, Dixie, has a habit of rolling around like a maniac on the floor after she eats. YOU GUYS, SHE’S JUST SO HAPPY. So of course, because this was a woven rug, she created a whole bunch of pulls, 85% of which I could fix. She sleeps on her own bed in our bedroom, and I couldn’t stomach the thought of locking her out when she’s been allowed to sleep in there for 10 years…so up it went into the guest room, which is now really, super cozy. Seriously, you should come stay with us. Enjoy the rug.

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Miss Dixie: Different Tactic, Still Destroys Rugs.

So basically, we still have no rug and I’m waiting until I feel a sufficient amount of time has passed before I try again. I’ll be finding something that’s tufted this time.

One thing I’ve noticed about myself lately is I have a thing for textiles. Don’t get me wrong, I like choosing paint colors, I LOVE case furniture, and dishes and stuff are alright, but I think in the home decor (and really even just general life) department, my first and truest love is with cloth. I genuinely like rug shopping, which is not something I can say about car shopping. Or cookware shopping. Or television shopping (ugh, the worst, I had a anxiety attack in a Best Buy once).

I like natural fibers and lots of texture. I find myself drawn to cotton and seagrass and wool. I visibly shudder when I touch a throw blanket thinking it should be cotton only to find out it’s acrylic. I think I caught myself saying, “Nope” out loud the other day when I did it at TJ Maxx. I spent way too much money on a new quilted blanket from Schoolhouse Electric (seen above on the bed) because it was light and 100% cotton and had a pretty, simple pattern on it.

I recently bought this beautiful scarf from a seller on Etsy because it was cotton and silk and hand block printed and naturally dyed and goes with everything I own because I own almost exclusively grey and navy blue things.

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I NEEDED it to go with my navy dress, my grey cardigan, and my navy sandals. Duh.

I’m beginning to understand, too, how people can end up spending a fortune on fabric for projects they may or may not eventually make. I made a couple baby blankets for friends and had so much fun picking out materials.

 

I’m not even kidding, I also bought that Narwhal fabric in white. Just because.

I’ve got some plans (and have bought the material) for flannel pillows for our bed this winter, so I’ll be trying to do some sewing soon, both to practice and just because I like to change things up.

I think I’m gonna have to come up with a storage solution for all of this someday. Good thing I’ve got a husband who builds things…

You guys who sew– is this a problem for you, too?? Do you binge buy fabric without a set-in-stone project in mind?

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Rocket Bed!

We’ve been thinking for a while that The Boy’s trundle bed needed an upgrade. A while ago, we decided to make it into a rocket bed, and Peter started working on a plan for the bed and I got to work on a blanket.

I finished the blanket a few weeks ago:

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I appliqued his initial onto the top, and hid a tiny moon in the bottom corner of the underside.

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A few weeks ago, Pete took The Boy outside and cut out a rocket-shaped piece of wood to make the trundle into more of a day bed where he could sit up and read books before bed.

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I like this picture because it looks like The boy is about to whop his dad in the head.

This weekend, we finally finished the rocket bed. I love the result.

First, we painted the rocket. The Boy and I had had some fun with crayons on one side of it, so we preserved that side and only painted the other side. Peter painted it the same blue as the cabinetry in our bedroom, and then I went back in with a small brush and painted some details. I’m not an artist, but the result is fun. I mean, it’s clearly handpainted by someone who has no skill or talent, but it’s sweet and simple and I like it anyway.

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The trundle is really just the crib mattress and support set inside a wooden frame with casters for easy maneuvering. Peter rigged it up a while back, so this weekend was just painting and attaching the rocket.

The Boy helped, of course.

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The final result, with the blanket, is pretty dang cute!!

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