The next big thing

{ Wednesday, August 25, 2010 }
We, like most homeowners I imagine, have a list of projects we'd like to complete around our house. We even have them prioritized and roughly scheduled for the year that we plan to complete them in. Our townhouse's 1 1/2 bathrooms definitely need a complete redo (they're all original circa 1975--blue sinks! Almond toilets!), but we have a few other projects we'd rather complete first and had put the bathrooms off for a couple years. We've recently learned, if we didn't know it already, that sometimes houses have a way of screwing with your priority list.

Let me tell this story a different way. If our house had a nickname, it would be Niagara. You may remember that we discovered and repaired several water leaks when we redid the floors a little over a year ago. And the floor is where this story starts. Our beautiful new wood floor started to bubble up in the hallway, just a few feet outside of our half bathroom, a phenomenon that I now know is called cupping. A few weeks later, that area of floor completely buckled. In hindsight all the clues were there, but it took us a good while to track this floor damage down to a leaking toilet in our half bathroom. We should have noticed, but didn't, that water was leaking from the bottom of the toilet tank at an alarming rate, flowing between, around, and under the old, cracked floor tiles and wreaking havoc on the subfloor below.

All this is my drawn out way of saying that we're remodeling our bathroom. Not that we have a choice--once we pulled out everything that was wet, soggy, and rotting, there wasn't much left and nothing to do but try to put it back together. Well, let me show you what I mean.

Here's our bathroom before we started ripping stuff out.

The bottom few inches of drywall around the toilet had to come out, but luckily we were able to save the rest of the drywall in the room along with the subfloor, but everything else had to go. Since there's a good chance that our walls were originally painted with lead based paint, we tried to be very careful about containing the mess that we made. We sealed off the room with plastic, cleaned up with TSP at the end of each day and showered before holding the bean.

After a long weekend of trading off between demolition and bean care, we were left with this.

I always reach a point during big projects like this where I start to panic. Late in that first weekend of work, I looked at the empty room and had to lay my head down. Neither of us have taken on a project this big before and the confidence I felt at the beginning waned a bit when the reality of the work ahead of us settled in.

Nothing to do but put it back together, right?

I'm honored

{ Tuesday, August 17, 2010 }

I've been given a beautiful blogger award by the lovely ladies over at 1 in Vermillion. If you're not already reading this account of Nutella and Strawberry's parenting journey, well, you should definitely start. Its by far one of my favorite parenting blogs. Thanks again, guys!

More birthday craftiness

{ Monday, August 16, 2010 }
Almost two months later, I'm finally finishing up the last of the birthday posts. Today, I have two more handmade gifts to show you. First up is the growth chart.

I'm really cracking myself up with my photoshopping. Of course our bean has a real name that we do use that I stenciled on the chart, but since we don't publish her name here, I had to get creative.

I made the chart out of a strip of linen fabric that I embroidered with brown and green thread. The green doesn't show up in the photograph at all, but there is a repeat of the brown pattern at the top of the chart. I then added a little interfacing to stiffen up the fabric and sewed on the patterned backing. I had never made anything with the backing folded to the front like this, so it took a bit of practice and planning to make the corners neat, but it wasn't difficult at all. Finally, I used fabric pens to mark the distances and color in her name. I was too cheap to buy a whole alphabet's worth of stencils when I only needed a couple letters, so I printed out the bean's name in a large block font on a piece of heavy cardstock and cut the letters out with a utility blade. Time consuming and tedious, yes, but it got the job done.

When it came to hanging the thing on the wall, I was stuck. The boy and I both agreed that we liked the clean look of just the rectangle without any long hanging ties showing, but since we're talking about fabric, most of the hanging options we considered would end up with some sagging somewhere. We almost just drove nails right through the whole thing to attach it to the wall, but thank goodness we decided against that. I ended up making a fabric casing for a wooden dowel that I was able to attach to the back of the chart fairly invisibly. We then nailed a picture hanger right into the dowel and hung it that way. The very tip-top of the chart rolls down ever so slightly, but its barely noticeable and that's close enough to perfect for me!

As it turns out, its difficult to photograph a 5ft long strip of fabric, or perhaps we need a different camera lens, or both. In any case, you're stuck with this arty angle in order to see the detail of the embroidery.

The final handmade present, is this sweater that I posted about a really long time ago. I finally got around to finishing it in time for her birthday. Well, its almost finished. Its in need of two more buttons since I miscalculated the number I thought I'd use. Yes, I understand this displays an inability to count to ten correctly. I haven't been quite as sharp as I used to be since the bean came along--I think it maybe has something to do with not sleeping through the night in over a year.

This sweater is the presto chango sweater (ravelry link). The front panel is completely removable so that it can be swapped out for a different pattern or larger size, how cute is that? A wool sweater may seem like a strange gift for a late June birthday, but I knit this in a 2T because I'm realistic about the amount of spare time I have I wanted it to be big enough to fit for winter. See, those two missing buttons aren't much of a problem--she won't need a sweater for a few more months and she probably won't be big enough to fit into this for another year. All part of my plan, I swear!

The bean says thanks for stopping by and looking at her presents!

Kitchen Revealed!

{ Monday, August 09, 2010 }
It may appear that this blog was intended to only be a journal of our bean's first year, given how abruptly I stopped posting, but I'm still here with lots to say! We've been busy with some new projects that I'm excited to tell you about, but first please indulge me in a couple more birthday posts.

I posted a teaser of the bean's birthday presents and now I'm back to share the finished projects with you. Well, I'm back to share one of them--the bean's kitchen!

We are so happy with how this turned out. The fridge, oven, and under oven compartment are pieces of plywood that we attached with hinges and closed with magnetic closures. We added a catch on the oven door so that it wouldn't slam open and smash little beany toes.

The center drawers are the baskets that come with the trofast system.

The burners are plastic coasters that are attached with a single nail in each center, which ended up being a great alternative to glue.

The most difficult part of this project was the scale. We had a hard time finding real kitchen items that were small enough to work. We looked everywhere for a faucet that would be small enough, but still look like a kitchen faucet rather than one for a bathroom. Finally, I read a tip somewhere about using a bar faucet, which is perfectly sized for our little sink (the sink is a square cake pan).

The shelf is a leftover piece of plywood and the rack that the utensils are hanging from is a leftover drawer pull that happily ended up being just the right length.

After much debating about how to frame out the window (all the trim we found was too wide), the boy had the brilliant idea to use a picture frame. We removed the glass and screwed right through the frame into the plywood back. The curtains are handmade, but the rod caused some problems. The boy ended up cutting down a cafe curtain rod to size and we attached it with something that I like to call "those plastic things that hold pipes to the wall," which I'm fairly certain is the technically correct name.

If you were wondering about the accessories, the metal and plastic pieces are Ikea (they have such a great kids section!), the plates are Plan toys (can't recommend this company highly enough!) and the condiment bottles are Melissa and Doug (I'm falling out of love with them, since their stuff isn't as durable as it could be, but boy is it cute!).