Archive for the ‘Home is My Happy Place’ Category

The Mobile Whisperer

January 26, 2013

Lucky, lucky me.  My father-in-law makes the most incredible mobiles–and even though I have quite a few, I just can’t get enough of them. It’s difficult to truly capture them in photographs, but here’s a little peek at a few of my personal collection.

This is one of the first he made for me. I love MCM Atomic style.  Update it with more saturated colors and you have:


He also works in natural woods, salvaged from branches he picks up on his walks. This one has wood from 12 different Indiana hardwoods.


Sycamore grain is gorgeous. This one has a different structure, and moves beautifully.

He also makes table-top models (and eight-foot versions of this!)  The stand is made of apple, and the individual elements are dogwood.

My favorite is a hexie mobile he made me after seeing my working on some English paper pieced hexagons.


It’s difficult to capture the size of my most recent gift.  It hangs in my foyer.


He has begun to play around with some new elements–computer components.



My daughter has a fun painted moon & stars mobile.

photo (28)

My son has a mixed dogwood/painted elements.

photo (29)It has been wonderful watching the evolution of his work, and I love it when he says, “Hey, I made an innovation . . .” I always try to lay claim to the prototypes. I like to think I’m his number one fan.  If you’d like to see more of his work, you can find him at Sculptures by Joe.


DIY = More $$ for Fabric

March 23, 2009

My parents were both children during the Great Depression.  It colored my approach to life in ways that I didn’t always appreciate when I was a child.  Household repair jobs were never something that we paid someone else to do, and I learned a great deal from my father’s ability to fix anything.  Even if I didn’t learn a specific task from him, I learned that if something is broken, it’s usually pretty easy to figure out how to repair it.


So when my sweeper quit working yesterday, it didn’t take much to figure out that one of the prongs on the plug was broken.   It’s a fairly common thing to break on a sweeper because who doesn’t love pressing that retractor button and watching the cord disappear and make that decisive thump sound?!  That sound is the thump of eventual doom for the plug.


A quick trip to Menards, $1.69 expenditure for a new plug and in less than 10 minutes, the plug was replaced and the sweeper was taking care of the dog and cat hair once again.  Out of curiousity, I phoned the local vacuum repair shop and asked for an estimate to replace the plug on a sweeper cord.  I was informed that it is not possible to replace just the plug end of the cord.  (Really?!  Anybody with Google skillz can disprove that one!)  Mr. Sweeper Guy told me that the entire cord must be replaced to the tune of $45 plus the cost of the cord and other necessary parts.

I controlled my desire to both laugh and contradict him.  Hey, I’m polite!  I only gloat in-private-on-the-internet!

I always find myself comparing my savings on any given home improvement or repair task (including some car repairs I can do myself) to the amount of fabric I can buy with those dollars.  It’s like my own private standard of value.


Because in my book, it’s a good thing to have a deep pile stash to draw from when working on any given design.  So try DIY and help keep those awesome fabric stores in business!

Project Dream Holiday . . .

November 26, 2008

Sound baking advice for the Thanksgiving weekend:


I’ve been hoarding these for such a holiday:  

project-runwayWhich, as you can tell from their still-encased-in-shrink-wrap condition, has yet to happen.  And isn’t likely to anytime soon.  That’s right, I have never seen this show.  Never-ever-never!  What is wrong with me?!  I would at least like to have season 1 under my belt before I buy any of Jay McCarroll’s fabrics!  

I should just be thankful that I’m too busy to sit still long enough to watch TV.  That’s something to proclaim around the family table–with or without a martini in hand!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyguys!

DIY Hardware Heaven!

November 15, 2008

Just one more report from the Indiana Walking Club’s Serendipitous Shopping Division.  Oh, the things I miss by living in a small town!  We traipsed up and down all those San Francisco hills (okay, it was more like hauling ass than traipsing), always looking out for interesting places to stop, shop, and eat.  


I don’t care what the place is selling–if it looks like this, I’m going in!  This time, the payoff was perfect for me.  Welcome to Bauerware Designer Hardware store!


Oh, the handles, the knobs, the numbers, the bars–the overwhelming beauty of it all!

I immediately fell in love with these from Soko Studio:  


A couple of these people will soon be hanging around my kitchen with me.

And everything by Rosalie Sherman–especially her animal hooks and her doorbell hardware:

rosalieshermanI’m going to have that bird on my doorbell!  Maybe it will make solicitors think twice about who they’re bothering!  

Again, Bauerware’s website is still under development (aaaarrrrrgggghhhhh!!!  I want to browse some more!!) But I bought some handles and took names and numbers of all of the things which will eventually make their way into my kitchen renovation.  Amazing what little pieces of hardware will do to motivate me!

Urban Burp

November 10, 2008

Welcome to the newest old fabric store around–Urban Burp on Columbus in San Francisco.  I was extremely excited to discover that the store had its grand opening just in time for my trip!

Urban Burp Rare and Vintage FabricsOwner, cloth hunter, and designer Elektra Skilandat has amassed an incredible collection of vintage fabrics from around the world, complemented by some beautiful reproductions and recently discontinued and collectible yardage.  She caters to quilters as well as home decorators.  

Elektra Skilandat of Urban Burp

We spent well over an hour with Elektra, admiring fabric after fabric.  She has a lot of beautiful mid-century drapery panels, which I tried to imagine hanging in their original homes.  A great number of her fabrics come from her frequent trips to Germany and other European countries.  She also offers design and upholstery service for those lucky enough to live in the Bay Area.

Found The Perfect Panel at Urban Burp

 I did find the perfect mid-century panels and some other delicious yardage.  The experience made me realize that I need to tone down the colors in my Atomic Split Level look just a bit with some steely grey and maybe a bit more brown tone in my orange accents.  I also found some fun vintage quilting weight novelty cottons that are going to be fun in just the right project. 

Watch for Urban Burp’s website, coming soon!

Found Them! [Happy Dance] Found Them!

October 27, 2008

A weekend of cleaning turned up a few coveted “lost” items in my house!  The blocks Mrs. Schmenkman made for me were at the top of my list.  Once upon a time I gave her a packet of fabrics.  She liberated some stars out of them with a little inspiration from Gwen Marston.

Then I got them back in an exchange with her a year or so later.  A few wonky sashings, a stripey bias-cut border and these little sweeties are going to take their place on a cheerful yellow wall in my house.

Luckily, I also found Mrs. S’s birthday present (from five months ago!) so I can get that on its way to her.  I also got my final 14 boxes unpacked from our move into town (18 months ago!)   I keep going down into the family room and just staring at the newly revealed bare floor like it’s some kind of national treasure.  Time to make a rug!

Closer and Closer–a Reveal!

October 13, 2008

I’m a lot closer to having a dedicated sewing space after a little visit to IKEA and a few days’ constructive work.

I decided to install IKEA Akurum cabinets in the basement for family room storage, a small sewing space, and most importantly as a practice run for my kitchen renovation.  Okay, maybe most importantly as a sewing space.  The studio is going to have to wait as I have given my space to my husband for a real home office.  We’ll shift around when we get a kid or two to move out.

Here’s what the family room looked like before we bought the house.  Nothing but potential here.

Here’s what it looks like now:

The Akurum cabinetry goes together like a charm.  All of the tolerances are tight and with the exception of one side of one cabinet that had been misdrilled (the idiot-proof pilot holes) they are perfect.  I would have returned that cabinet if it weren’t for the 2.5 hour drive to Chicago.  I just redrilled the pilot holes and used wood glue to stabilize it.  

I chose the Adel birch doors, which were priced right and look great.  I also upgraded to six-inch Capita legs because I wanted a more furniture-look, and the height is great for me.  It’s making me re-think my kitchen design a bit — in a good way.  Did I mention the hinges? IKEA’s hinges are absolutely amazing.  That presumes you actually care about such things, I guess.  I sure do!  I still have to finish the Perfekta birch countertops and officially attach them, but I am already in love with the look.

A place to sort of call my own . . . .

It’s not much, but it’s mine!  The countertop is just stock laminate from Menard’s.  Cheap.  I’m having to put extra supports in so that I can set up my machine in the middle and not stress it.  I’ll probably replace it later with something more interesting, but I chose to put my money into the cabinets at this point.  I’ll have about 12 feet x 12 feet when all is said and done, complete with design wall and cutting table.  And I only have to share with the path to the bathroom!  

Don’t you love these handles?

They’re not from IKEA.  They’re by Hickory and I found them at Menard’s.  I’m such a home-improvement geek I subscribe to the major home stores’ email lists so I can see when the good stuff goes one sale.  (Just a little clue:  the good stuff is usually marked down quarterly, so I plan my renovations accordingly.)

I am no longer afraid of my kitchen re-do!  It’s going to have a bit until the piggy bank gets filled back up, but I’m ready!

They’re Just Resting

September 3, 2008

I’m happy to have the rain, but sad that my celosia got top-heavy and decided to nap for awhile.  It was only a matter of time, I guess.  I was impressed at how ginormous they had grown–and the biggest hadn’t been supported at all.

Bake to Basics in Life

September 2, 2008

It has taken me a few weeks to decompress after leaving my job, but I think I’m finally back in a familiar and comfortable routine.  For many years, I baked all of our bread.  It’s been a while since I’ve had the time, but I think I’m on my way to re-capturing that tasty habit.  

The oven in this house is pretty crappy (too many other projects come before the kitchen renovation), but I’ve learned how to compensate and can turn out some decent loaves.  Today I made a wheat/oat/flaxseed meal base and revved a few loaves up with some dried cranberries and Vietnamese cinnamon.  I didn’t know that it was going to get up to the mid-90’s today, but I heated up the kitchen early enough that the A/C didn’t have to slave too much.  I do love winter weather cooking and baking.

My studio space is still being hogged up by boxes of hardwood flooring and books, so I have been doing a lot of handwork in the nooks and crannies of my days.

My Kaffes and I are becoming reacquainted as they are stitched up as a 1000 (or so) Pyramids quilt.

I’m sure that the actual stitching time is much greater by hand than machine, but the logistics of getting my machine set up and taken down right now are prohibitive, so I’m certain that I’m far more productive this way.  And I had forgotten how relaxing handwork is!  It has certainly helped me ease away from the stress of the library.

I’m almost ready for a full living room “reveal.”  The hardwood flooring is closing in on being done, light fixtures installed and if you squint, you can see the finished product peeping through around the edges.  No big pictures until the mouldings are installed!

My gardens are in their humongous glory.

The chaos of earlier Summer has become the chaos of Nearly-Autumn.  Check out the size of this celosia (coxcomb):

Summer Inspiration

July 25, 2008

This morning I went looking for color and texture inspiration around my house and gardens, and this is what I came up with.

What’s inspiring you today?