ORC Week 4: Textiles!

Hello, everybody! Thanks for stopping in for my week 4 update for the One Room Challenge, hosted by Calling It Home. Every week for 7 weeks (there’s been an extension due to natural disasters and the ensuing disruptions to peoples’ lives), designers and bloggers are posting their updates on a total transformation in one room of their home. Check out all the exciting changes here and here!

I’ve been working on the master bedroom in our c. 1900 vernacular cottage home in East Tennessee, lovingly named the Huffaker House after its first owner, Dr. R. O. Huffaker. Last week, I showed you the antique furniture that occupies the space, introduced a new piece by my super talented woodworker husband, Peter, and laid out the plan for artwork in the space. This week’s theme is textiles!

I knew I wanted new curtains for this space; the only ones I had in here were white printed ones from TJ Maxx, bought in a hurry because they were cheap. They were too short for my windows and no longer fit my style. So I spent a while picking out a fabric and researching sewing techniques for these babies.

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Before…

Making these curtains myself was an important part of the plan for this space. I struggle with the idea of disposability in our homes, and the overarching theme of this blog is learning to make permanent things in a disposable world.

I learned the basics of sewing about a year and a half ago from a friend who is now a retired costume designer and educator. I’ve since taught myself more skills via blog posts and YouTube. These curtains are certainly the biggest project I’ve ever tackled, and I definitely learned a lot about working with large pieces of fabric.

That said, anybody can learn to make lined curtains. I used this tutorial by Kelly from View Along the Way. I can’t say the project was easy, but I understood every step and never made any huge mistakes. Hallelujah! And look at how beautiful my curtains turned out!

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Now, in a perfect world, there are some design things I would change here. I realize that “hang them high and wide” is the general motto when it comes to curtains. Unfortunately, we hung these rods when I didn’t know that, and replacing the hardware is not in the ORC budget. Instead of replacing the rods, I chose to do a single panel on each window so that the curtains didn’t block all the sunlight in the room.

I love the pretty fabric I used for these curtains. It has a subtle variegated stripe pattern on it, and it keeps a big, navy blue element in the room. Since painting the closets, I’ve been missing a high contrast element to ground the room, and I feel really good about the curtains stepping in to take that place. They’re not as heavy and looming as the navy blue paint on the closets, but they still give the room and the windows some weight.

I purposely left the curtains hanging just above the floor. I know that sometimes the fashion is to let them pool, but white dog + navy curtains + folds on the floor = mess and I just can’t handle that.

I did line the curtains with blackout fabric. This room gets amazing light, but sometimes, that amazing light makes an afternoon nap for a toddler (or an adult…) less than easy. They have hidden tabs, which I like because they create a clean finish at the top of the curtain, pleat nicely, and reduce hardware costs and rubbing on the rods.

Now, on to the bedding…

 

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I’m so excited about the way the textiles are coming together in this room! I made envelope-closure pillows out of the pretty floral and the cream toile fabrics in the top left corner. The blue in the floral almost exactly matches the original blue milk paint on our ceiling, and brings that color down to the ground just perfectly. The cream is a nice way to tie into the white walls. I love the pin dot pillow covers; because the closets are now light, I wanted some contrast to set off the pillows. And I’m still deciding on a throw blanket. (Side note: I have an unhealthy obsession with blankets. Just last night Pete asked me if I wanted more for Christmas. Truth be told, I will never have enough blankets.)

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So why aren’t all these pretty things on the bed, you ask? Well, I told myself I’m not allowed to bring it all together until I paint the antique iron bed. That’s next week’s challenge, and my motivation for getting through painting something as pain-in-the-rear as a wiry old iron bed.

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So, that’s the plan. Only two more progress updates before the big reveal November 16! I’ll see you all after the weekend!

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ORC Week 3: Furniture and New Art!

Hey everybody! Welcome to Week 3 of the One Room Challenge at the Huffaker House! If you’re interested in the challenge, read about the featured designers (the pros) here and see all the projects by guest participants here.

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Last week’s big news was that the navy cabinetry in the master bedroom got a serious lightening-up in the form of a paint job. They went from dark, dark blue to a light, warm, green grey called Sandy Sage (by Valspar). I love how much lighter the room looks with the cabinetry painted in a light neutral. It really feels like a blank canvas.

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I also shared a mood board for the room. I’m going for a “warm modern cottage with antique vibes” look.

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Part of that antique vibe is going to come from the furniture in the room, which won’t be changing much.

I have to keep the current layout. The bed can’t move, and it makes too much sense to match our dressers to the side of the room occupied by each of our closets. Almost all the furniture in here is antique.

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This dresser came from Pete’s grandfather’s house. (Reminder to self: push in drawers before taking photos, Shoemaker.) It has original hardware and a mirror that bounces great light.

On the other side of the room is my great grandfather’s dresser.

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I love the warm color of the wood, all the little nicks and coffee stains, and the original knobs. This dresser has become home to all the “things” that will go on the shelves once I’m satisfied that the paint has cured completely.

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The bed is also an antique, but it’s been painted and is chipping. I’m considering painting it black for this challenge, and Peter plans to build us a Shaker-style bed in the near future.

The only non-antique piece? Behold my paneled blanket chest, last year’s Christmas present built by Peter!

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Honestly, I didn’t get my Christmas present until May, but still…isn’t it beautiful?  There are 7 floating panels in this thing. It’s made of solid oak and weighs a ton (like, I need help moving it). And what’s more? He only used hand tools to make it.

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That’s right. Peter generally doesn’t use power tools. He does everything with tools that have been used for hundreds of years…a lot of times with tools that are actually hundreds of years old. I just can’t believe sometimes how talented and brilliant he is.

So the furniture is staying, with a possible paint job on the bed.

What will be new, however, is the artwork. We’ve never really had any artwork in here while using the room as a bedroom. Take a look at what I’ve picked out!

The top left is a print by Etsy artist Clare Elsaesser, titled “The Sound.” Elsaesser has become a darling of the blog world, and for good reason: her paintings make people feel things. (This one has always reminded me of my Grandmother.)

I’ve had this print pinned for about 3 years, and I think it speaks to me because…well, it could be me. I’m not in the habit of topless seagoing, but the woman in the photo has my body style and hair color. I struggle with anxiety and somehow, whether it’s the stormy atmosphere or the woman’s messy hair, I find this print comforting.

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I also purchased this print, now out of stock from Scoutmob seller The Wandering. I wanted something that would add high contrast to the walls, and I love maps of any kind (though my heart truly belongs to star charts like this one). Peter made me a neat poster holder from a piece of exotic wood we picked up at the specialty lumberyard a few weeks ago.

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Finally, I plan to print and frame the Cardinals plate by John Audubon, published in his Birds of America book between 1827 and 1839. I wrote a whole post on using Audubon prints in your home, complete with citations, here. I wanted a bit of red, and I’ve used other bird prints throughout our home. I can’t wait to see these two hanging in the bedroom!

Next week I’ll check in with all the textiles I’ve been making for this room. I’ve just about finished them: pillows, new lined curtains (how I didn’t die during that project, I will never know), and perhaps something else.

Also, off-topic, but while sewing the curtains, I also whipped up The Boy’s trick-or-treat bag. He’s going as a black bat, and requested a bag to coordinate. Much fashion, very trend.

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See everybody next week!

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ORC Week 2: Painting and the Plan

Hello, followers of the One Room Challenge!

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If you missed last week’s post, just a quick rewind: I joined a semi-annual event where professional and amateur designers redesign a room in just six weeks! If you’re interested in the challenge, read about the featured designers (the pros) here and see all the projects by guest participants here. So many cool projects happening in so many beautiful homes!

Last week, I discussed my room o’choice: the master bedroom.

This room was originally our living room, and had two doors, one to the hallway, and one to the dining room. We redesigned this room to add closets a couple of years ago, covering the dining room door. When we finished and turned it into a bedroom, I was stuck in a blue rut; I didn’t know what else to do with this gorgeous, original, 117-year-old milk painted ceiling.

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So the room ended up with blue closets, which were admittedly not awful, but I’ve been feeling like the room could be so much happier.

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For a year or two, I’ve been designing a new room in my head. Here’s a little peak of the vibe I’m going for:


Let’s call it “warm modern cottage with antique vibes.”

What will it take to get there, you ask?

Well, one of the biggest jobs in this room is painting the cabinets. I did that last week! Additionally, I want to add some more color; I’ve been stuck in that blue rut for so long that I’m ready to take some risks. I’m going to use some beautiful fabrics (3 and counting) to make pillows and new curtains. I want to add some artwork, too; can you believe we’ve never had any in here? And finally, a complete revamp of bedding and some baskets (for holding my parents’ dog’s toys and probably for Agnes the Devil Cat to sleep in) should add some pattern and texture. Finally, the addition of a brand new piece of furniture built by my ridiculously talented and smart husband should cap it all off.

In my head, all of this works together, doesn’t look too busy, adds cheer and warmth to the room, and updates it to look like a nice mix of modern, antique, and cottage. In my head, the blacks, browns, blues, reds, grays, and greens all compliment each other in a nice, organic, happy way, and in my head it doesn’t look like a Hobby Lobby threw up all over it. We shall see!

Task number 1 was painting the cabinetry. I took last Thursday off to complete that task. Here I am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and make-up free early Thursday. Mama had cabinets to paint before school let out, so it was a “get at it early” kinda morning.

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These cabinets are a pain to paint, and to top it off, I was painting over dark navy blue (Volcanic Ash by Valspar). My new color choice is Sandy Sage by Valspar. Halfway through the project, I was really questioning my life choices.

The dark blue showed through the first coat so badly and really made the gray look like a dingy white. Not the vibe I’m going for.

However, after a second coat, I’m seeing the warm green-toned gray I was going for and feeling much better.

 

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I’m wondering if the new color is going to convince me that I have to paint the bed black to give it some contrast. For the record, the bed has already been painted and is chipping badly, so it wouldn’t be ruining an original finish. I think I’ll put that decision off a few weeks while figuring everything else out!

Time to get back to work! Next up on the list: a rundown of the furniture and artwork I’ve chosen for the room! See you next week!

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ORC Week 1: Master Bedroom

Hello, all! I’ve finally gotten up the gumption to join the The One Room Challenge™. Hosted by Calling It Home, the One Room Challenge™ is a 6-week event held twice a year in which designers and bloggers transform one room in their home. Twenty professional designers participate, and then hundreds of amateur bloggers link up their own rooms as well.

I’ve hesitated about joining this challenge before for a couple of reasons, but I need some motivation to do some things in the master bedroom in our 117-year-old home, so it seems like the perfect way to get moving on it. If you’re new to the blog and came here from the guest participant list, welcome! Click on “Tour the R.O. Huffaker House” to find out about our vernacular cottage home in East Tennessee!

Here are some BEFORE before shots of the bedroom, from when we moved to the house in May, 2012.

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We originally used this room as a living room. It had two doors, one off the main hallway and one off the dining room. A couple years later, we decided to make the room into a master bedroom. We weren’t happy with the room we were using at the time, and we also figured out a way to add closets to this room (read about it here, here, here,and here), turning the house from a 2 bedroom home (because only two rooms had both methods of egress and closets) into a 3 bedroom home. We did those renovations in the winter of 2015-6.

Since then, we’ve used the room off and on as we transition our son to his own bedroom (that’s been a lengthy process in itself), and I’ve struggled with the overall design of the space. The finished room looked like this in 2016.

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The room has some cool details.

Let me start with the ceiling: it is AMAZING. I’ve considered doing an entire post on it before, and maybe I still will, but it’ll take some research first. It is original to the home, and was covered up before the previous owner found it under nasty wood paneling. Why someone would cover that ceiling up is beyond me. I fell in love with it at first sight and I’m not going to lie, it influenced my decision about buying the home.

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As far as we can tell, the ceiling is either glazed or milk painted. It’s an absolutely stunning ocean blue and it has every color on the blue/green spectrum in it. I struggle to even photograph it, it’s so beautiful and varied.

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I also LOVE the copper color of this fixture. It’s not original, but it was a good choice by the previous owner. The only one I really like in the whole house, but a good one nonetheless.

The problem with the ceiling is that I’ve never known quite what to do with the rest of the room in relation to it. The blue has challenged me in the past because I didn’t know what OTHER colors to incorporate. I went with my gut, which was to stick to varying shades of blue, but I’m bored with that, and the navy on the cabinets robs the room of its light. It actually gets a lot of it; our house has extra tall windows and the bedroom faces south and west.

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I don’t plan to do any real construction in this room (which would be done by Peter anyway, because I’m pretty useless). The closets need a little touch-up work; the doors have to be planed down a bit, the insides have never been painted, I kind of want contrasting hardware, and Pete has issues with the top piece for some reason or another.

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The rest of my goals in here? I want to do some painting to lighten things up, hang some new art on a poster hanger we are going to fabricate, add new fabrics that pull the blue down from the ceiling, and make new curtains. The budget is small (paint and fabric, at this point), but I’ve already bought some of the essentials. I’ll also be showing off something amazing that Pete built for the space.

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So here we go: joining big blogger thing, have a lot of work to do, excited to see the result! Check out the ORC homepage to see the all the rooms people are planning to work on during the 6-week challenge!

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Septober #30projectsin30days Challenge Update

Hey guys! So, in the last blog post, I announced my plans to join the #30projectsin30days challenge, hosted by a blogger I follow, Stacy of Blake Hill House.

Well, I failed, but it wasn’t for lack of trying! Hurricane Irma hit, so we had friends evacuate and come to stay with us for a while, and we spent the time playing and catching up instead of working (worth it). Hurricane Irma also threw off my hearing for a few days (I have a weird ear condition where low pressure systems can make me hear things really strangely), which threw off my balance and tossed me into a bit of a depression (HURRICANE PUN!!!). September hasn’t been my month.

That said, I/Peter DID accomplish some things, so here’s a roundup of my #challengefail. Maybe we’ll just call it a half fail. Sounds better and reflects the fact that some stuff DID get done around the house, and we worked through last weekend to give us a couple of extra days. I’m calling it Septober; September plus a weekend.

SCREEN DOOR

One of the biggest accomplishments (and I have to give literally ALL the credit to Pete) is that we finally got a screen door on the back of the house. We live in an old house and no two doors have the same measurements, so it’s been a challenge to find one that fit the very short, wide frame of our back door. We finally found one that was the correct width at the Jonesborough salvage warehouse.

Pete thinks it was mass-produced in about 1920 (he has magical powers for figuring this stuff out using clues like the joinery, the shellac, and I’m assuming some kind of sorcery involving a glass ball). It needed cut down, painted on the outside (I love the wood, but it’ll be an outside door), and the screen replaced, but I’m counting this as multiple tasks for the challenge.

Here are crappy phone pics; the installation is mostly done, but Pete has to rig up a solution for a knob issue, and that might mean switching the direction the door swings.

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That’s no filter; it’s just how gorgeous the light is in the mornings behind the house.

DUCK YARD

Next, the duck yard. This whole summer, I’ve just let the ducks roam the neighborhood. In the morning, I let them out, and they come home in the evening, having had adventures throughout the day. The neighbors we know have been fine with it, and there are already wild chickens, cats, and dogs in our area, so I figured it was no problem. the ducks kept the bugs down and we had to feed them far less.

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Well, last Saturday we had a neighbor we’ve never met stop by, and she told me the ducks have been making a muddy mess near her front door. Apparently, they have a favorite spot, and while I’m sad we can’t have the ducks just roam free as they like to do, I understand and don’t want them to be a nuisance. It’s a shame, because the other neighbors really enjoy them, but I get it.

So, we had to make the side yard into a big duck pen. I didn’t want them having to stay in their little pen all the time. This surprise project counts for the challenge!

LAUNDRY ROOM CURTAINS

Next up, the curtains for the laundry room. Pete uses the laundry room as a (tiny) workshop, and asked for curtains for the windows. Apparently he doesn’t love the idea of an audience in the evenings? So, on a day off, I whipped some up and matched them to the ones hanging in the bathroom. I just need to get them hung, but Lowe’s discontinued the rods we’ve used throughout the whole house, so we’re working on a way to fashion our own matching rods.

 

CLOSET PAINTING

The bathroom closet was a mess; we added shelves and bead board to it at least a year ago, but I never got around to painting it. I chose a day I was off work, started up the Wizard of Oz on my iPad, and painted that thing a nice bright white. A little organizational time and the closet looks great (well, as great as a plunger closet can look). Priming and then painting counts as two tasks.

Fire Pit Installation

Pete has been hard at work digging out a low spot in our yard and building a retaining wall for a fire pit. We have gravel coming this Thursday, plans to build up the fire ring, and we have some ideas for hanging outdoor lights. With The Boy approaching a more self-reliant age, we’re excited for evenings around a fire while he plays with glow sticks in the yard!

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SO, the final tally, including things Peter has accomplished (he was participating in the challenge, he just didn’t know it…)…

  • strip old screen door
  • cut screen door to size
  • paint screen door
  • attach new screen
  • mount new screen door
  • fix the paint on the shower frame
  • deadhead the garden
  • pull out finished vegetable plants
  • pull out dead annuals and potted plants
  • pull out and fill nail holes (hallway and kitchen)
  • hang bookshelves in The Boy’s room
  • make laundry room curtains
  • prime bathroom closet
  • paint bathroom closet
  • buy paint for master bedroom 
  • add chicken wire to fence to keep ducks in
  • build gate for duck yard
  • clean stove window with Windex wipes and coat hanger (this is the WORST, and I spilled milk down it 3 weeks ago)
  • clean all ceiling fan blades
  • hang sash weight on new duck gate
  • new weather stripping on backdoor (this was attempted, but unsuccessfully)
  • dig out space for fire pit
  • build retaining wall for fire pit
  • harvest jack’o’lantern pumpkins and mow pumpkin patch
  • clean and spray paint lawn furniture

So there you have it. We accomplished 22 tasks this month. I wish we had made it all the way to 30, but 22 is nothing to sneeze at, and with the challenges the month brought, I’m pleased. Thank you to Stacy for hosting!

This will probably be a rare 2-post week. I’ve gotten up the gumption to join the One Room Challenge, and will post about the room and my plans this coming Thursday!

To end on a pretty note, here’s the last of the giant zinnias.

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#30Projectsin30Days and Much, Much More

Hi, guys! My last post was…approximately 4 months ago, which is about the time I was cast in TWO community theatre productions and embarked on a crazy summer of rehearsing, performing, and trying to keep the house clean(ish) and everybody fed(ish) at the same time.

First up was Urinetown: The Musical with my favorite new local community theatre group, the Greeneville Theatre Guild. What a fun, funny show! If you’ve never seen it, it tells the story of a naive but sweet romance between two characters torn apart by class differences in a post-apocalyptic, dehydrated world where people have to pay to pee. I mean, doesn’t that sound awesome?

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I had the greatest time with a cast that was so sweet; literally everyone got along and loved everyone else. AND, the show had three POWERHOUSE female leads (above, my beautiful friends), which was just the best. I loved every minute of that show and would have kept doing it for months.

As soon as Urinetown closed, rehearsals ramped up for Blue Plate Special Improv’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This show was such a nice challenge because I’d never done Shakespeare before. I loved the work it took to make things that sounded unnatural to me look and feel natural on the stage. I was cast opposite the most amazing actress, and we had the best time fighting on stage. The cast was lovely (and SO talented, across the board) and the show went off with very few hitches. Blue Plate even managed to make it free for local kids, so it felt really great showing the community how fun Shakespeare could be.

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Photo credit: Donnie Barnett

The point to telling you all of this is to explain that once rehearsals started at the end of April, I got super busy and NOTHING happened at the house. However, all of it is over now (sob), and I’m back to work!

I’ve decided I really need to be working on my sewing skills. I have a dream of being able to costume my own show someday, but I’m so far from that dream, so I need to get in the habit of sewing on a regular basis. The first thing I did when I finished with Midsummer was buy material to start on The Boy’s Halloween costume. He’s four, and a few weeks ago, I asked him what he wanted to be for Halloween. Without hesitation, he said, “A black bat!” I’ve asked repeatedly over the weeks and his answer has never changed, so I figured it was time to start that bat costume.

I started with a black hoodie. What’s the point of making a shirt when one has already been made for you? I laid the hoodie out on the table, and with the arms angled up (this is a 4-year-old wearing this, after all, and he’ll be running and jumping and raising his arms, so I couldn’t make the wings constrict his movement), I sketched out a wing that extended from the wrist of the hoodie to the waist. Then I added a half-inch seam allowance around the whole thing and, using the pattern, cut 4 pieces of black cotton fabric into the shape of a wing.

I wanted there to be cool stripes where the bat’s tendons provide structure to the wing, so I got out some gray wool felt I had and cut six strips, 3 for each wing, and fabric glued them to the front of each wing. Then I stitched them down, pinned the backs of the wings to the front of the wing, stitched them together, turned them right-side-out, and top-stitched the whole thing.

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After making the wings individually, it was time to sew them to the hoodie. This had to be done by hand, as there were no side seams to rip open, so safety pinned them onto the sweatshirt, and then whipstitched the wing very securely, first up the side and then down the arm.

Finally, I made the ears. I had bought some furry black material from Joann Fabrics. I cut out big triangles of that, plus matching triangles of grey felt. I whipstitched the grey felt to the backside of the fuzzy black stuff to add a contrast color to the ear.

I tried the hoodie on The Boy to figure out where to place the ears, and then very carefully used scissors to cut slits just wide enough to accommodate the ears. Folding the front corners of the ears in front of it to make a bat-ear shaped roll, I slid the ears into the hoodie, then turned it all inside out, and sewed over the ear pieces, which were sandwiched between hoodie material. Then I trimmed the ears so The Boy wouldn’t be bothered by them.

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I don’t generally show pics of The Boy here out of respect for his privacy (can’t have all three of my readers knowing everything about him), but the cuteness was impossible to convey in any other way. And yes, my curtains are looped over their rods. We have a Devil Cat, remember?

They stand up on his sweet little head without any problem, and the furriness gives them a wild look that I love. Now, to keep him from ripping it all to shreds before Halloween.

Finally, since September has opened up before my eyes and I only have a short trip and wedding to keep me from MAXIMUM  PRODUCTIVITY, I’ve decided to join a blogger challenge hosted by a blogger I follow, Stacy over at Blake Hill House. She and her family are respectfully renovating a big old house, and she’s hosting a #30Projectsin30Days challenge where we all pick 30 small-medium-sized projects to knock out in the month of September. I won’t post about all of them, because some of them are downright boring (cleaning the house fan, anyone? no? don’t want to read about that?), but a couple are exciting. I’m determined to get some closets painted around here, and to paint some porches, and to make some curtains, and and and…

My first #30Projectsin30Days was one I should have done forever ago. When we moved in, we put our curtain rod on the wood frame outside the shower and it messed up the paint. That was 5 years ago. So I fixed that. Boom. Project #1, out of the way.

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Adding “replace icky old curtain rod” to the list…

There are a couple of projects I’ve started but not finished. I bought material for white curtains for Pete’s laundry room/workshop (he doesn’t necessarily want an audience while he’s working, I guess?) and we bought wood (Nicaraguan Angelim, for anybody who’s interested) at the specialty lumber yard for a hanging contraption for a COOL poster I bought for the master bedroom forever ago.

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We’re serious about picking out wood around here.

I also became obsessed with the color of this thermal treated sweet gum wood at the lumberyard. Trying to figure out what to ask Pete to make me…

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Mirror? Box? Box with a mirror in it? There are seriously SO many options…

And, I finished another Christmas ornament. I have a dream of a Scandi-inspired garland of the 12 Days of Christmas all in reds, whites, grays, and blacks (the colors on our homemade stockings). We’ll see how far I get by December.

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Anyway, sorry for the long post. I’m back, and I’ll be posting more often now that things are happening more often. I hope everybody has a great weekend! It’s basically fall, y’all!

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New Stone Patio!

I think one of the most surprising things, at least to me, about owning a home, is the constant reevaluation of how you’re using a space. I know not everyone does this; some people are happy to get their home just the way they want it and keep it that way. I think that’s fine! If you love your space, and it brings you comfort, and it works for your family, and you never want it changed, more power to you. That’s why it’s yours!

However, Pete and I don’t work that way. I can’t count how many changes we’ve made to this house, or even accurately say how many times we’ve moved our bed from room to room. We are constantly trying to make our place work better for us. I’m not sure if it’s obsession with perfection (don’t think so), inability to sit still (more likely, at least for me), or just that we’re both kind of creative types, but we are constantly tinkering with our layout, our furniture, our colors, or in the case of this week, the number of porches attached to the house.

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Look at sweet Sis modeling for me!

This house has a total of four porches for four exterior doors. There’s the big front porch, which we’re ALMOST done renovating, two side porches, and a porch on the back walkway.IMG_2594

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I should correct the above statement, because as of just a couple of days ago, it had four porches. Now it has three. We’ve ripped one off and are replacing it with a stone patio.

We use the side yard a lot. It’s fenced, which gives me an opportunity to control the Boy, the ducks, and the dog, and it’s flat- the only part of our yard that really meets that criteria. Here’s a picture of the yard a couple years ago when I was working on a couple projects, and a picture of the (no longer existent) porch.

This porch was useful to us, but as you can see, it was a little small for our table and chairs. That’s exacerbated now by the fact that the Boy likes to eat dinner outside, so we need space for a third chair. Additionally, it made the small side yard seem smaller because it was a second level up from the ground. And finally, mowing the side yard was difficult for Peter, since he had to work in a confined space around the porch and garden. This is the new plan:

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We bought 1600 lbs. of flagstone and plan to bury them enough to make it easy to slide the mower over the top of the patio. The privet bushes will get moved, and the patio will extend all the way to the side of the house, curving in toward the house as it goes away from the door. Peter has been digging all week, and he picked up some pea gravel this morning, so once it has been graded and the stones laid, we’ll fill it in to look very similar to the back walkway.

There were a couple other advantages to removing a porch. The first is maintenance-related. Our porches, because of the hot, wet Tennessee weather, require painting yearly. I’m the porch painter, so I’ll be glad to have one fewer porch to maintain. Additionally, I am pretty particular about keeping consistency in landscaping materials, and I’m excited the flagstone walkway that goes around the back of the house will now wrap around to the side yard.

This project will probably go a long way this week/weekend, so I’ll update you next week on it! Hopefully we’ll be sitting out on the patio, sipping sangria and plotting our next move very soon!

Just a couple other photos to show how much non-blogged work has happened lately! I moved a ton of hosta plants from my bursting hosta bed down to the little cedar tree at the bottom of our drive. As in, I dug them up, trekked down the yard with 2-3, planted them, walked back up, and brought back more. And then lugged buckets of water down to water them in. It was brutal, but a good reason to skip the gym once last week.

This little garden has our historical marker in it, and I’m excited for the hosta to get acclimated and fill in to create a really pretty little bed!

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I had even more hostas to split, so the other tree at the base of the yard got some, too, but they’re big and droopy and needing to acclimate and then get trimmed back so they can put on some new, strong stems.

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A lot of the goal here is simplifying mowing around the lower-limbed trees. Pete has to get under here with the riding mower, and a hosta bed means he can just do it in one turn without smacking his eyeball on a cedar limb. Never underestimate the impact of nicely-landscaped trees in your yard. If we stay here for many more years, I expect I’ll have little beds like this around most of our trees. It’s pretty and makes for easy yard upkeep. Just a yearly application of mulch to keep the weeds back and you’re good to go!

Alright, I think that’s the run of it. I’m pretty proud of how the property is looking this year! I think we’ve taken it a long way, and I’m excited to see how much more functional and pretty our side yard is with a stone patio.

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Such a pretty, sweet old lady.

All the best, guys!!

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