A very Hipstamatic 4th of July weekend.

I downloaded the Hipstamatic iPhone app and had so much fun with it over the 4th of July weekend. So I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

Most of these I took with the Jon S. lens, the Ina’s 1969 film, and the “flash” was off.

This one is of my honey picking out food at Oregano’s, a delicious local Italian restaurant:

This one’s on the way home from Oregano’s:

Picking out delicious beer at…Walmart (ahem) which we only frequented in Chet’s (unsuccessful – boo!) quest to find the perfect flag:

Outside having drinks before dinner as the sun was going down:

Having dinner at P.F. Chang’s:

Greetings from Phoenix(ish)!:

A picture of downtown Phoenix after a baseball game. We got free tix to go to a Cubs/Diamondbacks game. I’m a Cubs fan all the way, and they won!

This last one is of my pups. I used the Kaimal MarkII lens, Ina’s 1969 film and the flash was off.

I love how it looks like pictures my family took in the 70′s:

The Hipstamatic is one of the few apps I’ve actually paid for. I highly recommend it if you love photography.

Oh, and I have to mention that I learned about this app via the Etsy shop of artist Jason Hill who created this gorgeous typeface print using Hipstamatic. He also has some pretty awesome prints of Phoenix landmarks. We have this one but have yet to frame it.

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Baby gifts – Part Two.

Last week, I posted pics of the blanket that took me several months to complete. This one here took me only a few days. A minor miracle, seriously. It usually takes me ages and ages to finish a project.

I purchased the fabric at Joann’s on Sunday afternoon and had finished the initial bit of sewing the right sides together by Monday night. And that was the most difficult part, which I’ll explain more about below.

I based mine on the tutorial over at the Prudent Baby blog. The pink fabric is 100% cotton and the other side is the heavenly soft (polyester) Minky Dots fabric. If you read the tutorial at Prudent Baby, you’ll see this is a super simple blanket for a beginner seamstress. I won’t rehash all the details since you can find them there, but I will tell you what I learned during my own adventure.

The hardest part for me was getting the Minky side not to stretch longer than the cotton side as I was sewing. I sewed a couple sides up before realizing that I was going to have to start over. After I ripped it all back out (always a good time!), I pinned more carefully along the one side  and kept the Minky fabric side up as I went. That way, when it started to stretch, I could see it and was able to allow it to make little folds (almost like pleats) instead of letting it streeeeeechhhh way longer than it should have been. It did still stretch a bit though; that’s why I pinned each side immediately prior to sewing said side together. After I figured that trick out, it was all bueno.

One of the aspects of sewing that I’ve learned in my handful of projects is I always have to kind of fudge with the fabric to get it to work if you’re not going off a specific pattern. Maybe even if you are? I haven’t even tried that yet. Hmmm…probably something to consider.

I purchased a yard of the cotton fabric and 2 yards of the Minky and cut it to fit the cotton. I think this is a good way to approach this project because it doesn’t have to be an exact size and you end up with very little waste. I bought two yards of Minky because it was on sale and somehow I knew before starting that I’d want to make this project again.

I highly recommend this as a baby gift or perhaps for your own little one. Nicely priced, and comes out very soft and reasonably professional looking, even if your sewing skillz are still a little bit on the iffy side.

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Baby gifts.

I’ll be mailing this out to one of my dear friends who just had her first baby a few weeks ago:

It took me many months to finish the blanket. What was the real killer was the satin edging. It’s actually satin backed flannel that I bought after I saw this tutorial. If you watch it, you’ll learn that you should use a whole piece of it for one side and then wrap it around to make the edges. But I decided to make it much more difficult I wanted to do flannel on both front and back, so I cut the satin into four strips and sewed each one on individually.

I also could have simply bought the pre-made blanket binding (or followed the tutorial) but I  didn’t like the color selection as much. However, in retrospect, it would have looked a lot better around the edges because it was really difficult to line it up properly and you can definitely tell if you look closely. Also, I had to really fudge with the corners and ended up hand sewing them down so they wouldn’t look to funky.

But, all that being said, I think overall it turned out okay for my first baby blanket; I felt good enough about it to go ahead and give it to her. Also, I drew up this little peanut to welcome her new real life peanut:

Weirdly enough, I very quickly whipped up another blanket (really similar to the one in this tutorial) in just two days about a week after I finished this one. I bought the fabric on Sunday afternoon, and I had it finished by late on Monday evening. It’s definitely a world record for me, and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I’ll share it just as soon as I get some photos.

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There might be a reason people are wary of doing their own plumbing.

The first weekend in March was dedicated to the task of revamping the plumbing in the wall of what would eventually be our guest bathroom shower.

Here’s what our shower plumbing looked like “before”:

Chet had gotten all our supplies purchased the weekend before, had read a few books (like this one that his parents had given us) and was confident he was ready to go. I was just going with the flow on this one, no pun intended. I swear!

Also very serious is my beginner status as a DIY home improver. For example, let me just say that I was super-proud of myself when I successfully unscrewed the towel bar from the wall  in our bathroom all by myself. I mean, come on, it’s just a couple screws. But that’s how much of a newbie I am to all this. Thankfully, Chet is way more advanced than I. Here’s the proof:

That’s him trying out his new soldering skills in our garage. He spent all day Saturday putting as much as he could together in the garage and here’s what he came up with:

He then had to solder with the torch really, really close to the wall, while I supervised to be sure the wall wasn’t going to get ignited. I did, in fact, have to mention when one of the studs was starting to get a bit charred. Aside from that, it went pretty well if not a teensy bit stressful!

Anyway, I was originally going to explain all the ins and outs of this project, but really, I think the most pertinent info has to do with what went wrong. Here goes:

1) Most importantly, we weren’t able to turn the water back on by Saturday night as originally planned. That wise little voice inside my head knew I would regret not showering that morning, but I didn’t listen to it. Step one of doing your own plumbing: shower immediately prior to turning off the water.

2) The directions provided with the valve showed a plastic piece (which you can see in photo below) that, as it turned out, wasn’t actually supposed to go on once you assembled the valve. Many hours were lost in just trying to figure this out, and it was the reason we didn’t get to turn the water back on.

3) The biggest problem was that we couldn’t get the valve to turn off. We ended up calling a plumber on Sunday because we thought we had done something wrong. It turned out that the valve was just stuck. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.The plumber was able to turn it off after messing with it a bit, and all seemed well. The nice part of having him come in was that he said Chet hadn’t done too bad for a first timer. I say, he practically performed a beginner’s miracle, since there were never any leaks, even now 3 months later.

4) By Sunday night, all was well. No leaks, water was back on in the house, and we felt all satisfied and showered. We were naively and happily watching Sandra Bullock get her Oscar, not knowing that a) Jesse James is a total ass and b) we were about to hear a large screeching sound followed by water flowing out the tub spout even though it was still TURNED OFF!!!

This was extremely disheartening and to be honest, we both had trouble sleeping that night wondering how much it was going to cost us to fix the problem and whether Chet was going to have to start over from scratch. It sounds silly, but after spending two full weekend days on this project, and then thinking it might have all been for nothing, well, it’s a really poopy feeling.

So I spent Monday morning searching online to try and figure it out. In doing so, I found this really awesome plumbing forum that was created and is moderated by a professional plumber, Terry Love. Also, I called Kohler and they told me it was probably just the “guts” of the valve that had been damaged and sent us a replacement free of charge. During the two weeks until it arrived and we had time to put it in, we kept our fingers crossed that it would work. And guess what?

It DID. So very exciting, let me tell you. It took about 10 minutes to get it put back together, and Chet said he could tell right away that it just felt right. We gave it 24 hours just to be sure it didn’t do anything funky like the other valve, and it didn’t. It stayed put and made us feel very, very pleased. Not poopy. Pleased.

So, to go back to my subject line, here’s the reason why I, the non-plumber in this situation, think others might be wary of doing their own plumbing. I don’t think it’s because it’s all that difficult (said the wife who didn’t actually solder anything). But for reals, Chet (the person who did all the putting together) said that the soldering isn’t that bad. Time consuming, yes, but not difficult. I think the really sucky part is, if you can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong, you could really screw up the rest of your house and/or not have running water. For me, not having running water = not my favorite thing in the world. I like a daily shower. And hopefully soon, I’ll be able to take one in here. But that’s a story for another post.

I’m unsure if I would recommend this project to others, but for us it turned out to be very worth it. I didn’t even know what a temperature valve was when we bought our shower fixtures a few weeks prior, and now I understand exactly what’s going on behind those walls of mine, which to me is amazing. Plus, I think we saved ourselves at least several hundred dollars. Actually, maybe way more. I have no idea the extent to which they needed plumbing, but I just read that Door Sixteen spent $1500! Cuh-razy savings.

So, again, I think the reason people are afraid (rightly so) to do their own plumbing is because it’s such a hassle (greasy hair, stinky spouses) and potentially a colossal waste of time if you screw it up. Fortunately, we got lucky and got everything taken care of with minimal problems. Also, I think my husband is a Super Duper Star for taking on this very intimidating DIY project. On that note, I leave you with this:

Posted in Bathroom renovation, DIY, Home | Tagged , | 3 Responses

Desert bloomer.

We had a really rainy spring here in the desert. I can’t say for sure, but I am guessing that the rain, combined with lots of watering of our nearby newly seeded lawn, contributed to this desert bloom:

Chet discovered it the other day when we were trimming back our insanely overgrown bougainvillea bush. It’s the first time we’ve seen it bloom and any time something in our yard does well, we’re pleased. Because we generally have no idea what we’re doing with our Too Big for us to Properly Take Care of Yard. Here are a few more photos a week later after it really bloomed:

After a few minutes of taking photos alone, I was joined by a couple helpers:

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What’s next?

For the first few months of this year, I got really obsessed with all things home improvement, decoration, etc. I came across Young House Love and from there I was inspired to search high and low on the world wide webs for anything DIY and home related. I’ve noticed though that over the past few weeks, my home obsession is fading. I have this thing where I get reeeeally into something for a few months, and then, for no reason whatsoever, the love affair will start to fade and I won’t feel so fluttery about…whatever it is.

It used to really, really frustrate me, but then I found a book called Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher and realized that I’m what she calls a Scanner. If you’ve ever felt frustration over not being able to find your THING in this world, when it feels like everyone else on this planet has one, you need to read this book. It was so comforting to realize that I’m not a big freak/flake who can’t commit. We may be more rare, but there are other people out there like me (like you?). And I’ve learned to be mostly okay with realizing that there probably isn’t ever going to be just one thing out there that I’ll want to do for the rest of my life. I’m passionate about lots and lots of things, and I’ve had to learn to just go with what is calling me at the time and not try to plan it all out.

So, like I was saying, over the past few days and weeks, I’ve started to feel restless again. I’m not really as into all the home improvement stuff that I was for a few months (but I am committed to finishing our bathroom renovation!). But I can’t help that I’ve started to feel a need to move on to something new. Yesterday it hit a low point where I felt just. so. bored. Yawn. Chet gave me some good advice: just give it a minute, it’ll go away. Frustrating in the moment, but he was right. He kinda knows me.

Today, when I got into work, I cleaned off my desk first thing and it totally freed me up and gave me a fresh, new perspective. I looked at several really inspiring peeps/sites. Today, I’m thinking I may want to start trying to do some drawing. I’ve never done any drawing at all really. But for a Scanner like myself, the learning aspect is really what keeps it interesting. At least, until it’s not anymore.

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Spray painted candle holders.

Our local used bookstore, Bookmans, is pretty awesome. You can bring in all your old books and magazines and they’ll pay you cash or you can trade for credit. You always get a lot more money if you take the trade in credit. They’ll also buy some of your little home-y knick knacky things. I don’t know that I ever looked in that section prior to my obsession with All Things Home Decorating which started a few months ago. But when I did, here’s what I found:

They actually still had their Pottery Barn price tags on them. Originally the large one was $29 and the smaller one was $19. I got them for free because I had enough trade-in credit. As soon as I had a chance, I went to Home Depot and bought a can of white spray paint. I did two to three separate spraying sessions (to avoid drips if you do too much at once) and thought I had covered everything pretty well. But after letting them fully dry I could see I had to go over them again. It’s kinda tough to really get into all those crevices. After a couple more thin coats, I finally got them fully covered and here’s how they turned out:

We found some whiter candles than these and they are currently sitting on our fireplace mantel along with the awesome Misia and Salvador vases by Jonathan Adler that I got Chet for his birthday.

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Kitchen: Before, during and after-ish.

I thought I’d post a few more photos of the progress we’ve made on another room of our house. This time it’s the kitchen. When we bought our house in 2006, there were many, many soffits. The first to go, before we even moved in, was in the kitchen. The following three photos are the view of our kitchen from the hallway.

Here’s how it looked right after we closed:

And here, same view, after we had the soffit removed:

And here’s a photo taken a couple years ago, but not much has changed:

Here are three more, same progression, looking in from our living room:

If you look at my previous post of a mood board for our living room, you’ll see that we have replacement stools all picked out. The ones you see in the above photo were inherited from my parents and have served their purpose, but we’d love some prettier ones that are more our style. In about a month, I think I’ll be using our gift card from my credit card rewards to buy them. Yay!

And even though we’ve made a lot of progress, we definitely still want to make some major changes in here. In an ideal world, we would replace all the cabinets, get a new sink, countertops, put in a backsplash, and get stainless appliances. In reality, we will probably have to limit ourselves to new counters, a sink, and backsplash, keeping the cabinets and appliances. But I guess it can’t hurt to dream big. In fact, from what I’ve seen lately, it’s usually more effective in getting what you really want. : )

Posted in Before and After, Home, Kitchen | 2 Responses


Happy Birthday, one day early, to my sweet pups Wrigley.

And to everyone else, I hope you’re having a beautiful, peaceful, and very happy Mother’s Day. xoxoxo

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Living Room: Before, during, and after-ish.

In my previous post, I shared some of the items that we’d like to purchase to furnish our living room area. It’s not exactly a living room, it’s really kind of a random room that’s sort of hard to furnish. Since the room has been essentially empty on one side for the entire four years we’ve lived here, I always tend to think about what isn’t instead of what is. But looking through old photos of the room made me realize how far we’ve come! This is almost exactly how the living/dining area looked on that day we purchased our house:

The only exception is that there was a gold fireplace screen that we removed so fast, it was in our garage before I remembered to take a photo.

One of the first DIY projects we did in our home was to tear down that wood paneling. And what did we discover underneath, you might ask? Here it is:

On either side of the fireplace was a very thin wallpaper with pieces of thread embedded within. I spent an entire day steaming and scraping this wall. It was my first attempt at removing wallpaper, and I’m guessing it wasn’t as bad as it could have been because the steam went right through the thin paper and made it really easy to scrape off with a putty knife.

Some of the other changes we’ve since made: scraped off the popcorn ceiling (and paid someone to re-texture), painted the ceiling and walls, sanded off the greenish hue on some of the fireplace bricks, hung curtains. We also had recessed lighting installed along with some other major renovations done to the kitchen area, which I’ll post about some other time.

Also, I have to make special mention of the forest green mantel. I want to say that it was the bane of my existence for 3 years , but that seems a little overly dramatic. Let me say instead that it was  very irritating. We debated for years – literally – on what to do with the whole fireplace area. We finally decided the most budget friendly decision was to buy wood and make a mantel. It took Chet one weekend to complete it, and I am so impressed with his handiwork. Especially now that I’m trying to do more DIY projects myself. He’s got skills, I tell you. He would point out all the flaws if you got close enough. But noone notices but him.

Anyway, here’s what you’re probably really interested in…my after-ish photo:

I think it’s obvious that I say after-ish because we still need to furnish the whole left hand area. And I think Chet and I both still wonder if we made the right choice with the fireplace. Down the road, perhaps we’ll do something different with the brick. But still, I am happy with how much progress we’ve made thus far and am looking forward to finishing  this room once we complete our bathroom renovation.

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