Sometimes scary is good!

I went with friends, Amanda and Karen, to see Halloween on Sunday morning. The best part was watching a very-empowered Jamie Lee Curtis go after the scary guy. We left the theater feeling exhilarated! (FYI: If you don’t like scary movies, you probably should pass on this even though, as scary movies go, it was not that scary.)

It was a pretty day and I was pumped so I decided to install a rain chain. I watched the video on this page and went to work.

I took down the old downspout and dug a 6″-deep pit. I moved a concrete urn from the backyard to the front, and then tried drilling the extra drainage holes in the bottom. Drilling 1/2″-thick concrete is hard so I decided instead to take a 41b. hammer to the bottom of the pot.

Maybe it was because of the movie, but I found whacking the concrete to be very satisfying.

I bought 2 really heavy bags of gravel at Lowe’s, and emptied one of them into the pit. Then I centered the pot under the hole in the gutter, on the gravel.

I had to order a rain chain and it came today.

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We are going to have the trim painted and new gutters installed soon so I’m going to wait to add more gravel to the pot. Once I do, I’ll top all the gravel with river rock to make it pretty. I’ll be sure to post photos of the rain chain in action the next time it rains and I’m home to see it.

OK, enough of that… back to quilt-related things :-).

One thing leads to another…

I spent 12 years with an admittedly fine sofa from Crate and Barrel. I loved the chocolate brown color, until I didn’t. CandB announced their annual sofa sale 2 weeks ago and I did a happy dance. Our new Petrie sofa is exactly the same as the old sofa except that it’s a little shorter, charcoal gray, firmer, and cleaner.

I have 2 midcentury modern arm chairs whose cushions were covered with a lovely brown print that I had also grown very tired of. They looked so bad with the gray sofa that I couldn’t put off recovering them.

Why is it that there are so few choices in upholstery fabric, especially if you don’t live in a big city? I could have shopped online but I wanted to see and feel the fabric. I was amazed that I found the perfect fabric at Hobby Lobby — and it was even on sale!

You know me and dots…

Just so you know, recovering cushions is not hard. You have the skills to do this. Use the old cushions as a guide and go for it!

I made the brown the cushions years ago and it wasn’t hard to use them as patterns for the new covers. The foam inserts did not need to be replaced. I spent a few hours carefully cutting all the pieces for 2 seat cushions and 2 chair backs.

And then I sewed. It took longer than I thought it would, partly because I made the covered cording too. My trusty BERNINA 1140 handled the many thicknesses of this thick fabric just fine. I love that machine!

I finished the last cushion just before the eclipse which, when you look at the fabric, felt perfect.

I bought more of this fabric than I needed. There’s probably at least a yard, but there are diagonal cuts from where I cut the bias for the cording. If you would like what I have left and are will to pay the postage, it’s yours :-). Email me at becky.pieceocake@gmail.com. The first person I hear from gets it. I’ll send you a PayPal invoice for the shipping.

From polished to honed…

I have a marble-topped coffee table. It came to me a year or so ago with water-rings etched into its polished surface. I did the DIY thing, and ordered the stuff to polish the marble. It wasn’t easy but it mostly worked and I was happy. Then, over the holidays, I spilled a whiskey-honey-lemon juice concoction* on it. Deep sigh. It left a big, white mark.

I’ve come to realize that we are too hard on polished marble so why not just embrace the un-polished/honed look. Since water appears to cause most rings, I decided to soak the marble top with water. I applied very wet towels let them sit for several hours.

Water did not make the polished finish go away. I thought that perhaps it was the whiskey that had taken off the polish so I decided to try vodka (my husband’s whiskey is too expensive to pour on the table).

After a few hours it was obvious that vodka wasn’t working either so I decided to consult google. It turns out that acidic liquids are the main culprit when it comes to ‘etching’ the polish off of marble. Vinegar was mentioned and I have a gallon of it. Yay! I soaked paper towels with vinegar and left it to sit.

Later I took off the paper towels and just poured on more vinegar. Yes, vinegar will take most of the polish off of a marble surface!

The surface is a little blotchy which only shows in some light, from the side. I sanded the top with fine grain sandpaper. It knocked back some of the shinier areas and I like the feel of it but I decided to once again consult google. I found out that you can, indeed, use fine wet/dry sandpaper and an orbital sander to get an even better honed surface.

I have an orbital sander but don’t want to use it in the house—too much dust. When Steve comes home he can help me take the marble to the garage and I’m going to sand it like crazy and then seal it. If any of you have scarred marble that’s bothering you, I offer this as one possible solution.

*The whiskey-honey-lemon juice concoction is what we refer to as ‘granny’s elixir’ and it is my favorite cold remedy. It doesn’t make the cold go away faster, but it does help you to feel better.

Happy New Year!

I hope your new year is off to a dandy start. Mine has been good so far. I’m not walking as fast as usual, and I’m still in the boot, but otherwise my foot feels better than it did before surgery and I’m moving around normally. I’m even back to standing at my desk!

Steve is in Hawaii now, teaching Natural History of the Hawaiian Islands with Keith Kisselle, his colleague. I’m on my own for 3.5 weeks and since he left I have been overcome with the urge to tidy.

On Saturday Chris came over and helped me rearrange my studio. I moved my computer to the other side of the room so that I can look outside when I work. That meant stringing ethernet cable through the attic and down the wall. It took about 4 hours, but it’s done and I wish I had done this years ago. I ended up spending another many hours trying to connect my wireless printer to the computer. It never did so I got a faster, newer one that works better. (Printers are actually cheap—it’s the toner that’s expensive.)

Yesterday I tackled some shelves in the garage that have bothered me for months. If I never saw them I could have ignored them, but I walk past them numerous times every day. It may not look that tidy to you, but it’s so much better than before!

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I didn’t waste a lot of time dusting the shelves off because, why? They’ll be dusty again in a few days.

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I was all done and congratulating myself on a job well done when the garage door decided not to work. What happened was that one of the sensors was out of alignment. It’s had a problem ever since I hit it with the car months ago. I’ve had to tweak its position in the past but this time that didn’t work. So I had to take the thing apart, re-bend the metal bracket, and wire it in place on the back side of the bracket. It works!

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What I’m really doing is practicing work avoidance. I should be doing so many other things but I can’t seem to concentrate on anything until I feel like my space is in order. I’ve about run out of projects so perhaps the work will commence this afternoon :-).

A peek into Linda’s stash…

Linda sent me this photo of her fabric stash. She is using hanging shoe and sweater organizers and they look a lot better than I thought they would. In fact, if I did not already have shelves in my own fabric closet, I’d use this system. I like the way the fabric is compartmentalized.

Linda's Fabric Stash

Linda’s Fabric Stash

Linda has a lot less fabric than she used to have, and a lot less than I have. But you know what? This looks like a really good size for a stash. I know I have too much fabric (again). It’s too hard to find what I’m looking for, especially when I don’t really know what I’m looking for. Having too many choices can make choosing harder, not easier. I am looking at Linda’s very tidy closet with envy :-).

In other news, my foot is doing really well! The doctor had me cut the bandage to relieve the pressure on my foot on day two and that took the pain away. I can even put a little weight on it today (as per doctor’s orders). I’m still only allowed to be up only 5 minutes at a time. The rest of the time I have to sit with my foot up. The better I feel, the harder that is to do, but I’m sticking to it.

Shaking hands with a shovel…

Bruce Taylor’s guys put in our drip irrigation system last week. These brown drip hoses are perfect, but don’t look that great laying on top of the ground. 

   
 

The last time we spread mulch was 2 years ago and it has decomposed. It was time to mulch again. 
We’re lucky that there are big mulch piles that we can use but it is real work to get the mulch from those piles to our yard. It requires shoveling mulch into bins and buckets, driving it home, and hefting it into place.  
 

Steve and I both shoveled. He did the heaviest bin-lifting into the pickup. But I did my fair share of lifting and I was thankful for all those Pilates classes :-). 
  

We started at 7:30am and quit at 3:15pm with a 30 minute lunch break. We are fried but the yard looks great!
  

The mulch pile is much diminished…

 

We celebrated with home-made hot fudge sundaes!

And now for Mom’s fence…

Steve and I both thought that water sealing my mom’s fence would be fast. She has a small yard. How long could it take!? 

Well, there’s a mile of fence around my mom’s small yard. Not really, but it seemed that way. We started at 8:30 AM, and finished at 2:45, with a tiny break for lunch. 

You can see that it really needed this and it does look much better now. And the fence will last longer, too. 

  
On the up-side: it didn’t rain. On the down-side: it was clear and sunny and hot. We are both beat, but happy to mark this chore off the list. Yay!