Monthly Archives: January 2010

Keeping my cool

hot chocolate and computer work

I am not one who is prone to stress – I just don’t do stress, for the most part. But of course I am human, so I do on occasion have those heart palpitations accompanying the thoughts, “what am i doing??” And no, this has nothing to do with my wedding plans πŸ˜‰

What I’m doing is………applying to grad school! This has been a long time coming.
I didn’t want to jump into more school right after I graduated from college. I felt I needed to give myself time, and find out what the world was outside of the classroom – who I was. When you think about it, if you go to college right after high school, that’s non-stop schooling from the time you’re 4 or 5 years old until you’re a full-blown adult. How are you supposed to know what’s out there, or who you are in a different setting?

No, I knew when I graduated from college that I needed some time outside of school. So it’s been six years, and it’s been wonderful. I know I made the right choice in taking my time and gaining perspective on the world, my life, where I’m going, what I love, and getting experience in the job world, gaining people skills and professional skills.

But now, I’ve made the decision to get back in there, and continue my formal education. But it’s stressful to put yourself on the line; to open yourself up to criticism and rejection. But that’s how you grow, right? If you meet with rejection you adjust, learn, and try again.

So as I complete this application process, every once in a while I have to step back, maybe make a cup of cocoa, and just breathe.

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Tile Floor Update

It was a very physically demanding weekend (and we’re only about half way done with this project)! The floor is going in nicely, and it will look fantastic when it’s complete. Such a step up from the painted concrete that has been in there since the folks decided to rip out the brown shag 6 or 7 years ago.

The floor downstairs needs to be a hard surface (aka, not carpet) because of the tendency for flooding. And, fittingly, we actually had a bit of a flood after the 2nd day of laying tile; the washing machine had a drainage backup and went right out into the living room! We were flying around for a minute there, trying to sop it all up with towels before it did major damage to the drying thinset. I think we managed it in time. πŸ™‚

So here are some in-progress pics for you to enjoy! We still have a way to go; this coming weekend will be phase II.

downstairs livingroom ready for tile!

This is a BIG room – 685 square feet! So we are using really big tiles – they are 24″x24″, and heavy. The painted concrete has served its purpose, but now it’s time to class up the joint.

mixing thinset in the wheelbarrow

Because we are tiling such a large area, we needed a lot of thinset, usually 100 lbs at a time. Mixing it in the wheelbarrow gave us mobility, and it was much easier to mix – as opposed to the bucket we used when tiling this room (such a pain!)

first quadrant

Each quadrant of the room essentially took a whole day to do. It was slow going, despite the fact we were working non-stop, and there were at least 3 of us on the job each day.

second quadrant

After the second full day of tiling – we finished the second quadrant. Notice that we haven’t tiled up to the room edges; this is due to needing cut tiles. We decided to keep all the cuts to the end of the project, when we’ll rent a heavy-duty tile saw and do the cuts all in one day.

third quadrant

Here’s Dad surveying our progress after day-three of tiling. Looking pretty good! Next weekend we’ll finish that last quadrant, tile into the hallway (out of shot, to the right), and install all the cut pieces around the perimeter. Oh, and of course we’ll also have to grout and seal (that may need to be a third weekend in itself!).

Phew! It’s hard work and slow progress, but it’ll be so worth it when it’s all done. (Yes, that was our mantra all weekend) πŸ™‚

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Filed under home improvement, projects

Happy Friday

This weekend (and after?) I’ll be down at my parents’ house doing a major home improvement project. We’ll be installing a porcelain tile floor in the downstairs living room, which is a whopping 685 square foot area!

We’ve already cleared the room of furniture, popped off the base molding, cleaned the exisiting painted concrete floor, and decided our layout for the tile.

Today we start laying the tile – big 24″x24″ beauties. I’ll be taking pictures through the whole project, but I won’t be able to post them until I’m back at my own computer. So until then, have a great weekend!

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Filed under DIY, home improvement, projects

DIY Sewn Bench Cushion

Most people who are not from the Pacific Northwest have no idea how beautiful our summers are. Summer in Western Washington is in a word: ideal. The temperature ranges from the seventies to mid-eighties, the humidity is very low, everything is lush and green, and the mosquitoes are few. This is why we chose to have an outdoor summer wedding – because we know how gorgeous it will be, and we want to share that especially with our out-of-state friends & family (local folks already know how good they have it, haha).

This means getting my parents’ yard to idyllic condition will be key. Slowly but surely we are planning our course of action. Not many things can be done far in advance, but I’m tackling the little things that can.

One small detail is a wrought iron bench, which sits under some shady boughs at one end of the property. I want to make that spot inviting. I had found a very cool length of upholstery fabric at a thrift store that I didn’t know what to do with, and my mom suggested a comfy bench cushion. Genius!

This project took very little time and was also very cost effective. Here’s what I did:

First, measuring is important. The benchseat measured 48″ long by 18″ deep. And I wanted a thick comfy cushion, so I decided 2″ thick would be good.

To get the fabric cut to the correct lengths for this end result, I would have two panels of fabric measuring 51″x21″
(Take your length and add 1.5″ to each side – the .5″ is for seam allowance)

Next, pin your 2 panels together, good sides facing each other, and sew all the way around, leaving about a 6″ opening so later you can turn it inside out and stuff it.

Once you’ve sewn the perimeter, put your hand inside the corner and lay it flat – this is how we get square corners. Here’s a little diagram I whipped up:

(you may need to click to enlarge the diagram!)

Here’s what your square corner will look like:

square corner detail

Once all four corners have been squared off, turn the case right-side-out, and you are ready to stuff it! ^_^

When your cushion has been filled (I used about 52 oz of poly-fil) the opening needs to be sewn closed. I just did this by hand – pinned the two layers together and then stitched with a needle and thread.

So at this point, I had a big mound of a cushion, so to tame it, I sewed three buttons to pinch the pillow down.
And the buttons just happened to be 3 of my own design and crafting, so it’s extra special πŸ™‚ You can check out more of my ceramic buttons at my Jadeflower shop!

button detail

So there you have it! I can’t wait to bring my finished cushion home and try it out on that bench. Oh my mama will be so proud πŸ˜› haha
Maybe some coordinating throw pillows are in order, too!

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Filed under Crafts, projects, sewing, Wedding

Spring in the air?

Despite the bitter cold stretch that we had back in December (see this post), today is positively balmy! It’s almost 60 degrees, for crying out loud. And do I detect a slight springy aroma wafting on the breezes? It smells like flowers, I swear. Daffodils, maybe.

I was thinking I just had springtime hopes on my mind, but when I checked on the tulips I planted in November, this is what I found…

tulip sprouts!!

These guys are totally jumping the gun. It’s still only January! Don’t they know that?

I planted my bulbs in large planter pots, so they are above ground, and therefore, due to the warmish weather must think it’s time to grow. That’s fine by me, I just hope we don’t have some freak cold front rush in and kill my little babies.

But I am really excited to have pots and pots of brightly colored tulips this spring! Last year M & I took a day trip north to La Conner and the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (dorky I know), but the tulips were so pretty! I couldn’t help myself ordering a whole box of bulbs of the varieties we liked the best.

Roozengaarde tulip farm was where we went and who we ordered from. And it was so convenient – I ordered them in the spring; forgot about it; then in November I get my box of bulbs all ready to be planted just then in order to bloom in the spring! Easy!

I just hope that this growing early thing doesn’t hurt them. I’ll be sure to post more pictures when they start to bloom. πŸ™‚

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Bailey-Boushay House Chef’s Dinner

Last night I was in for a huge treat – it sure does pay to have friends with connections! My looooong-time friend Natalie had an extra ticket to a charity eventΒ  and asked if I’d like to be her date, and I jumped at the chance! First off, it’s always fun to hang out with Natalie, and bonus – this was an excuse to dress up all nice, do my hair all fancy, and partake in amazing food prepared by chefs from throughout Seattle. The whole shindig was a benefit event for the Bailey-Boushay House (and they did indeed raise quite a bit of money – very inspiring!).
Hosted at Pier 66 on the Seattle Waterfront, the setting was very classy.

Pier 66

the lights of the seattle waterfront

the lights of seattle's waterfront

But the main event at this event was the food. All about the food. (Oh, and did I mention there was an Alice in Wonderland theme for the decor? Love it!)
The party started out in a large reception space, lined with different appetizer stations hosted by prominent restaurants from around the city. As we made our rounds of the room, our favorites were the Leek & Chevre Dumpling topped with Pickled Golden Beets (TASTE restaurant) and the Pastry-Wrapped Brie with Poached Pears (Bailey-Boushay House). I also really liked the Alaskan Cod on Crostini with Lemon Aioli & Asparagus (Rosebud restaurant & bar), and Natalie liked the Cured Salmon with Apple Compote on Bacon Garlic Tuile (Ivar’s restaurant).

After the opening reception, a select 300 of us got to (read: paid to) go into the dining room, where we were treated to a gourmet 5 course meal. The table settings were lovely and fun.

anyone else see zebra stripes?

Our table had a cute centerpiece of wheatgrass with Gerber daisies – very Alice inspired. πŸ™‚ We shared the table with Natalie’s coworkers, all delightful and fun people, which made it an extra good time!

So, to the FOOD – I managed to take photos of almost every course…

yam bisque

We started with soup – a delicious garnet yam bisque with ruby beet swirl (very pretty as well as tasty!)
Next was the salad course (but I forgot to photograph it, oops!)

Alaskan Ling Cod

Up next was the fish course – Alaskan Long Line Ling Cod with Manila Clams, bacon, and green beans. Very very yummy!

oxtail bourguignonne

And the entree was Oxtail Bourguignonne with carrots, red wine marmalade, Parsnip Puree, pancetta, and Sweet Bread Fritter. All delicious (though very rich, especially after all the food we’d already eaten)! But Natalie refused to try the fritter, because she couldn’t get over the idea of sweetbreads. πŸ˜›

mmmm cupcakes!

For dessert we were presented a beautiful array of cupcakes with different frostings (I believe mine was dark chocolate with blood orange frosting – SO good). The most interesting one was the vanilla cupcake with sage frosting (proving green does not always = mint)!

It was a super fun night – meeting fun new people, eating fabulous food, getting dressed up all nice, being out on the town, and hanging with a long-time friend – what more could a gal ask for?

girls' night out

Thanks, Natalie! I’ll be your date any time ^_^

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Petticoat Update!

So, as I mentioned on Monday, I had plans to sew myself a petticoat, to go under dresses, skirts…and perhaps a wedding dress…

And now that it’s Friday, I’ll let you know how it went! Well, first thing – I followed the tutorial by Sugardale, almost exactly, and now I DO have my very own handmade petticoat!

Second – it was a pain in the patootie to make, hahaha! No seriously, I thought I could crank this thing out in a few hours. Turns out I needed about 7 hours to sew this garment! I confess, I am not an experienced seamstress, but even if you are, this is a time consuming project.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the way it turned out (pictures below). But for anyone thinking of doing this, expect to spend some quality time on it.

The thing is, there is just so much material. First, measuring for yards and yards. Then tracing your lines with Fray Check (important! fraying edges are no fun!). Then cutting out all those yards and yards of fabric. And we haven’t even begun on the sewing machine!

Anyways it is really fun to see a garment start from this:

petticoat materials

To this:

measured and cut fabric

To a finished product:

finished petticoat

Isn’t it sweet! Definitely worth the effort. πŸ™‚ It’s not a hugely dramatic petticoat – it’s pretty understated, but just gives that little bit of extra bounce and lift to certain dresses.

no petticoat..............................................with petticoat!

The fabric I used is crinoline, which has some stiffness to it, but it’s not nearly as structural as, say, tulle; so this kind of petticoat is ideal for dresses and skirts that are also of a light fabric (so the petticoat isn’t weighed down too much). Hmmm, very much like a dress I’ll be wearing this summer… πŸ™‚ No previews for that dress though! That one is a surprise. πŸ˜‰

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Filed under Crafts, projects, tutorial, Wedding