House Week 6: The Calm before the Storm

I am enjoying a few minutes on my new front lawn while I wait for Plywood to magically appear that I need to inspect and sign for. It's been a good paced day leading up to the arrival of the parental units. Eariler today Urban Ore picked up the modern windows, doors, and toilet I will be replacing with perfect timing as I need the room for the plywood, in like 15 minutes. I also got an update that I will not be doing much baking in the new home until the fall. Unfortunately the beautiful stove is super backordered until then, but I'll survive.

Tomorrow marks day one of beginning to put the house ba k together. The plan is to start putting the exterior walls Saturday and pick up the front and back doors i have purchased from Urban Ore and Omega Salvage. Sunday will be more walls, as will Monday, and Tuesday ... you get the point.

Things to do with Lemons: Meet the Lemon Tree

This is the first in a new "series" for me entitled "Things to do with Lemons".  Some have tasted the magical lemons from the new house and others will soon.  I have been "blessed" with a very productive Meyer Lemon Tree in my new backyard.  While i may not be able to live in my house yet (see my naked house), this has not relieved me of Lemon duty.  Each weekend since mid February i have been at the house mowing the lawn and picking lemons.  Luckily the Lawn is down to a manageable length from it's original 20" - 30" height in front and back, the lemon tree is showing no signs of backing off it's 2 large shopping bags of ripe lemons a week.  Each time i've been at the house in the last month there have been more and more flowers and little green baby lemons on the tree, it's pure madness.

With my drive to reduce waste and not throw away perfect good items, i have been motivated to do many things with my new found fountain of lemons and thought i could share my lemon journey so my friends can get inspired to find fantastic things to do with lemon themselves (remember that i have *more* than enough to share!).  Also i would love to hear what *you* do with lemons or anything else growing in your yard.  It is super rewarding to use foods that you grew yourself both in dishes for your family as well as things to take to work or parties.  There is a magic to being able to say "I grew this".

Here is the beautiful Meyer Lemon Tree in all it's glory

My Lemon Tree

Lemon Tree Flowering

House Week 4 & 5: Foundation and a Trim

Beginnings of my new Foundation
Weeks 4 and 5 were mostly spent digging and getting inspections for the new foundation.  The "pads" have been dug and pored.  I'm told these are the parts that sit at various positions under the house and will hold it up long term and while they knock out the old foundation to replace it.  Also the outline for the addition has been dug out for the new foundation that i believe will be poured in the next couple of weeks.  Unfortunately i am at a super inspection heavy point in the process so things are moving a bit slower than i would prefer.  But slow has not meant idle.  Friday afternoon i was greeted by a non-leaking water spikit at the front of the house ... so i now have access to water all of the time ... yea!!!  Also the "forest" of backyard with nearly four foot tall grass was on the list to be destroyed my moi this weekend.  Best present of the week was seeing a beautifully and freshly weed-whacked yard that required no additional work from me.  The trimmed yard looks huge!

Quick Sewing for a Baby Shower: Receiving Blankets

I didn't use to be such a procrastinator.  I swear!  Christmas presents use to be started in June, i was 2 minutes early for meetings, and i knew where the hammer was at all times.  Something since buying a house has put me on the late bus for the last few months, and unfortunately getting cute stuff for a friends baby shower was no different.  Thursday afternoon i decided that a handmade gift was required for baby shower that was starting in 72 hours and proceeded to poke my brain for suggestions that would be quick, practical, and reasonably priced.  Receiving blankets!  What could be better than, medium sized blankets that are super washable?  Nothing when you have about one hour to complete said handmade gift.

One of the reasons this gift only took 15 minutes to make was a beautifully dust covered item of mine ... the surger.  If you are surger-less do not fear!  This project could also be done using a single needle machine with a tight zig-zag stitch along the edge instead of the over-lock.

Receiving Blankets 101

  • 1 Yard of Light Weight Flannel, minimum width 36" (per blanket)
  • Thread for sewing along the cut edge
  • Scissors (for cutting said thread)
  • Paper (for curve template)
  • Radial cutter (could substitute scissors instead)

How to:

   1. Wash the fabric on hot.  This is critical to remove as much shrinkage as possible and to ensure the fabric is de-linted as much as possible.
   2. Dry the fabric on hot.  Same thinking as above with getting the shrinkage out.
   3. Cut out a square of fabric 36" x 36".  Here you can substitute any measurements as desired for the blanket.
       If using a radial cutter it's best to pair it with a metal ruler.
       (NOTE: There is no Seam Allowance for the blanket as we will be sewing along the edge)

Receiving Blankets: Cutting the Square

   4. Cut a template for the curved corner out of paper by folding it in 8th's and cutting the folded corner off as shown below.
       Or ... find an object to use as the shape of the corner and cut following the shape.

Receiving Blankets: Making a template for the rounded corner    Receiving Blankets: Cutting Corners

   5. Sew!  If you have a serger, use it.  This took me about 2 minutes per blanket (3 in less than 10 minutes!!!)
       If no serger pull out the good 'ole single needle machine with a zig-zag setting.
       Set the stitch width to max and the length to one of the smaller settings to get good coverage along the edge
       To start pick a side near a corner, but not too close.  Since the seam overlap will be exposed we don't want to drag tons of attention to it.

Receiving Blankets: My super surger

   6. Sew around the entire blanket edge following the shape of the blanket edge.  Run over the beginning of the overlock (zig-zag) for approximately an inch before ending.
       This will help reinforce the stitching and keep it from unraveling in the near future.

Receiving Blankets: overlapping overlocking

   7. Clip the seams, fold up pretty, and gift away!  I staked the blankets together and tied with a bow, skipping the wrapping paper 'cause they're cute!

Receiving Blankets: All Done!!!

Do i really want an evil poisonious tree in my backyard?

Walnut Tree?I tasked myself with finding out what the oh so mysterious tree was in my new backyard.  After a couple of trips to the nursery i was told i was the proud owner of a walnut tree!  At first it sounded interesting, but as the conversation continued I was less excited.  Learning about the evils of walnut trees, how nothing can grow around them because they are poisonous, how difficult it is it get to the walnuts even after they fall off the tree ... neither of these things were getting me to leap for joy.  I am not convinced that i want the evil tree.  If it's going to make my vegetable and fruit growing live miserable down the road it's got to go.  It it wants to behave itself and not grow to much, then i think we could come to an understanding.  I think i owe it a full year to show me it's intentions, i just bought the house and the tree has definitely been there longer than me, so it gets seniority.

I could use some help here garden experts.  Do i keep it, get rid of it, or is there a magical medium ground in which we can share the backyard and live in peace?

Sylvar is DONE!!!

Sylvar Finished!!!I've finished my latest and definitely greatest sweater.  I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out.  I did a lot of shaping to me work on the front and back panels and it fits of so fantastically!  I can't wait to start the next major project ... the Turtle Skirt ... in between my crocheting of wash washers mania.

So far the sweater has been worn twice to work and i truly would be wearing it more if the weather didn't turn to sunny and 70's the minute i finished it.  Sylvar is a perfect Berkeley sweater.  It has a tons of breathe-ability with the open knit leafy design on the body and sleeves letting me get the perfect amount of air while out riding my bike around town and along the bay.  The bands at the bottom and sleeve openings are just knit and purl opposite rows so it went super fast and they stay where they're put.  So no soaked sleeves while washing the dishes!

Lastly it is a tank top sweater, meaning that it needs one of my 500 different tank tops to be worn under it thus giving me an excuse to put on a tank top in the middle of January or any time it's raining without feeling like a So Cal freak!  I love my tank tops and can't wait to be able to cycle through them all year with the help of my new sweater.

House Week 3: Bare Bones

So far i haven't lost my mind...though i do believe that it will all happen in due time.  I have managed to lose all of the walls, ceiling, and floors in my house.  Luckily all of this was done on purpose my father tells me.  It is very exciting to finally be done with the removal phases and to be moving on to the beginning of building onto the bare bones of the house.

This week they will dig and pour the new foundation for the house that i've been told can withstand a 9.0 earthquake and support a second story if i ever build up the desired to go through a massive remodel ever again.  Not much to show as we are finally down to just the studs in the walls and the team begins digging for the new foundation.  Next week should have foundation pictures!

My Naked House from the Street
Wk3: Front SE Corner, Down to the Studs

Some Neat Floor Bracing
Wk3: What it looks like without a floor

Still intact Sunroom (i can't wait to get rid of)
Wk3: The Sun Porch still kinda intact

Crochet to Kill Bacteria and Save the Planet

Well maybe crochet can't save the entire planet, but there are a lot of little household items i'm being inspired to replace the disposable versions of with crocheted washable versions that won't ever have to see a landfill.  The latest book from BookSwim i've been reading is Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck.  This so far has been an awesome and straight forward read with lots of fantastic ideas to get anyone cleaning less with some easy preventative cleaning things and detailed walkthoughs on germs/bacteria and how/where they live.  Who knew that even biodegradable sponges are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.

In the book Sandbeck discusses using dish cloths instead of sponges when washing dishes, when done letting them dry and then putting them in the "to be washed" pile.  The next load of dishes, move on to a new Dish Washer.  Reading about the evil-ness of the sponge and it's bacteria farm type personality i thought about crochet, and how those little bits of left over cotton yarn could be put to a good use as Dish Washers!

So out came the Granny Squares Now book for inspiration and some basic patterns.  I finished two Dish Washers this evening based on patterns: a) Five-Petal Flower (In Green/Yellow) and the b) Eight-Petal Flower.  If i am going to switch over i figure i'll need at least one a day for seven to 10 days so that i don't have to run the laundry just to get a clean Dish Washer.  Here are a couple of things the new dish washers will save me:

* money (no more buying sponges)
* time (no more going to the store to buy sponges)
* no waster (once not longer usable all 100% cotton items can be composted and saved from the landfills)

More to come on my new favorite book/reference manual

House Week 2: Who needs a roof anyways?

The demo work is nearly done!  They finished tearing out *all* of the kitchen and have moved up to the roof.  It's pretty exciting to walk into your house and see the sun shining in through the ceiling.

Wk2: Back of the house, beginning of no roof

Wk2: Who needs a roof

Wk2: I might have picked a different piece of wood for the framing...

I have begun Phase A: trying to remove the 6 to 8 layers of paint on the original windows (which will be put back in their rightful place at the front of the house) and original doors.  The different layers of colors are amazing.  Who knew that anyone had a turquoise colored exterior to their home four layers back (guessing the 70's?).  Since the house was originally built back in 1921 i don't think anyone has "removed" paint prior to putting more on top.  The paint "rings" seemed to go newest to oldest:

* White
* Beige
* Baby Blue
* Deep Red (so far only on the windows)
* Turquoise
* Off White
* Tan
* ???? [haven't conquered the tan yet...]

To help with the removal of the paint i knew i didn't want the super toxic standby, i wanted to use something that could be washed into the grass without it glowing in the dark.  I found an awesome product that even smelled like oranges!  Citristrip, and it actually worked!  Today i layed out the bathroom room and a couple of windows to get going on my phase of removal.  The Citristrip went on super easy and even...and came off nearly as easy.  I found that leaving things in full sun for a couple of hours before getting to them the product dried and was more difficult to get off, but i just sprayed a bit of water onto the surface and was able to get it up super easy!  I don't know if i'm enjoying stripping off paint, but i am super excited about being able to see all of the molding details on my windows once i get this all done.

Wk 2: Paint Removal - 4 Original Windows

Wk 2: Paint Removal - The removed bathroom door!!!

Wk 2: Paint Removal - Paint Removed Window

Well, one side of one door and one side of two windows down.  Only 14 sides of windows and 9 sides of doors to go!!!