Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How we fought off the winter greys ~

The morning's walk with the dog was beautiful; the sun felt warm, and the air smelled sweet. This was not the case last week. Last week I thought I was going to suffocate in the dreary, grey, cold winter weather. It's not that the winter has been bad, just long, and rather mild with a lack of quality snow storms {the kind that require you to stay inside and hibernate like all good animals should}. Instead of staying in, we just had to trudge through it, and at this point we're ready for spring. Calder was feeling the weight of winter too, so we fought off last week's winter greys with a whole pile of sunshine in the kitchen.

It started with juicing the last of the Christmas grapefruits:: The pitcher of juice provided a few days worth of enjoyment and vitamin C, and by the end Calder and I were bartering for the last delicious drop. He drinks his straight up, I mix mine with seltzer water for a bit of fizz.

Then it was time to test out the new jellyroll pan, so I baked a meyer lemon spongecake and filled it with an almond buttercream {meyer lemons and almonds ~ two delicious crops from the sunshine state}::

And finally, there's nothing like a rainbow of color on your plate to add some sunshine to your day. This is a simple kale, beet and quinoa salad :: To put this together:
~ roast some cubed beets, sliced carrots, bell peppers and onions in the oven {with a bit of olive oil and salt}
~ cook some quinoa on the stovetop
~ sauté kale and garlic in olive oil
~ chop up some cherry tomatoes and cucumbers
~ mix it all together and enjoy! If you want a bit more flavor, you could add your favorite vinaigrette. We keep it in the fridge and eat it for lunch throughout the week.

The first snowdrop bloomed over the weekend and the daffodils are popping up, it looks like we may survive after all...

Monday, February 20, 2012

And yes, we knit

A new sweater is on the needles. This is the Fuse sweater from Wool People, Volume 2. I really love the collections of garments and designers brought together in this work. And, I particularly love the good, hearty wools that are used. They are all designed using Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter wool; I didn't have any on hand, but I did have a sweater's worth of Carodan Farm's worsted weight, which I find to be a great substitute. After my success with the purple Aidez sweater (also Carodan farm yarn), I decided that I'd go out on a limb again and add more color to my closet. This is their peach color-way, and the second photo below is a truer representation than the first.

So far this sweater has been fun to knit. You begin by casting on 16 stitches, and knitting back and forth, making a long strip that becomes the lower edge of the sweater:: You then go back along the length of that strip to pick up the stitches for body of the cardigan. This is a sweater-knitting-puzzle at its finest. But my favorite part? The sweater is seamless!

I've knit the body from the bottom up to where I have to attach the arms {photo below}. I'm now knitting the arms {two at a time on circular needles, so that they match exactly}. Once the sleeves are long enough, they will be attached to the body, and I'll continue knitting the yoke up to the neck. This should make a perfect early-spring cardigan!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Hang up your coats!

Yep, it's hang-up #5.

We have a coat closet, but wanted and easy hook option for hanging coats and leashes when we walk in the door. This was a really simple project, you just need a nice piece of wood that's at least as wide as the studs in your wall and some hooks. Attaching the hooks to the wood provides the extra support you'll need to withstand the daily force of grabbing and hanging those heavy winter coats. The standard stud distance in US houses is 16 inches {this is not so in much of Europe ~ did you ever notice how you buy something from Ikea and its screw holes are either too wide or two narrow to hit two studs?} My pop cut and sanded a plank that was 36 inches long, giving us plenty of coverage for screwing into studs that are 32 inches apart.

Before screwing the hooks into the wood, I contemplated painting it, but C was in favor of the natural wood look ~ so I applied a coat of my favorite beeswax polish and called it a day. It gave the wood a nice, finished look, and it should add a bit of protection when we hang up wet coats.

But I have to be honest, after a few days on the wall, half of our coats still end up hanging over the backs of chairs... we're just leaving the hooks open for guests :-) The hooks all came from urban outfitters. The larger, acorn hooks are about seven years old and have hung in four different apartments as I moved through the years. The flowers are new ~ I picked them up on sale last week!

Hang Up 4 ~

It's all about bedroom curtains today. Truth be told, the curtains were hung back in October when I made a push to finish decorating the bedroom. I never gave you a final tour, and looking at some old posts, I realized that the bedroom has come a long way. Today's shots will give you even more details...

The curtains are the Matilda variety from Ikea. I love them: they let light in and have a subtle bit of texture and pattern going on. BUT our bedroom window is in the middle of a big wall {we don't have any other art on the wall, and we want it that way}, so the white curtains on a creamy, white wall was looking a bit boring.

The fix ~ topping the curtains off with a panel of patterned fabric:: This was so easy, I wish it hadn't taken me 4 months to do it! Since the fabric wasn't as wide as the curtains, the most time consuming step was cutting and lining up the patterned fabric so that I had the length I needed. I also took some time to make sure that when you look at the seam between the curtain and the top panel, the panel's design begins at the same place on both curtains. Small stuff, but I wanted them to look good.

I picked the color to match the knobs that I added to the dressers:: Remember way back in this post when I mentioned that the dresser drawer pulls were broken? I had a hard time finding pulls that were large enough, looked good, and didn't break the bank. When I saw these flower knobs in Anthropologie, I knew I had a winner! We kept the pulls that were broken ~ putting them into the top drawer on each dresser, and then the lower drawers have flower pulls. With that little touch of brass in the flowers, they really look good together!

And the icing on the cake? C and I have a running joke about octopuses. I wanted to get him something with an octopus on it for Christmas {a shirt? pint glasses? artwork?}, but when I saw this pair of octopus pillow cases, I knew I had the perfect gift for him and me {selfish, I know}! I wanted them because they matched the knobs and the panel fabric {that was not yet sewn to the curtains, but I had plans}, and I knew he would get a kick out of them.

And there you have it, throw a plant in the corner, slap a headboard on the wall, and call that bedroom done!::

Now, onto the guest bedroom, this place was looking good, but it also needed some curtains. I hung these in November, but thought I'd give them a shout out. It took me a while to settle on something for this room too. I wanted something with pattern here, but I didn't like the all-over-patterns that I saw. Then one day it hit me, I love our shower curtain! It's a cotton-blend curtain from Ikea with a flower silhouette pattern that goes half-way up the panel. Unfortunately I can't find it on their site and my sub par pictures don't show you their full glory, but I love these curtains. Bonus ~ the curtains were $10 each, so buying a set was much cheaper than most of the window-curtain options out there!

Here's a close-up of the pattern::

And the full she-bang::
I slid the curtain rod through the holes that were already in the curtain, and I love the folds this creates when the curtains are open, but if your curtain rod is really wide, it may be too big for the small button holes in many shower curtains.

Next up, we tackle coats...

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Weekend Update!

A day late this week, but it's a doozy {our standards are not that high ~ give us a new toilet and we're happy!}.

This weekend included a bit of muffin-making:: I used the basic muffin mix from the King Author Flour cookbook {it's my go-to for baking}. I then tossed in some chocolate chips and fresh cranberries. It's the perfect after work/before gym snack. I only used half a bag of cranberries, so I cooked up the rest with some sugar and lemon peel, creating the perfect sweet-tart jam for the muffins!

My drinker of a mom took C and I took the liquor store on Saturday night where I picked up a few new treats:: ROOT, which is a birch beer-like concoction full of organic herbs and spices. During the Superbowl I downed a few Root, maple syrup, and soda water drinks. It was the perfect, alcoholic version of birch beer.

And Marshmallow Vodka!:: In our house, where fluff is king, this stuff is like gold. Using some vanilla ice cream and a dash of Kahlua I mixed up some fluff milk shakes for my mom and I.

There was a new toilet installation:: Yes, C is wearing his bike suit. I think he got dressed to go out on a ride, realized it was freezing, and decided that installing the toilet would be more fun!

And while he did that I was photographing our African violet. After a year the house it's finally blooming! As everyone says, it'a all about finding the right window.

Ooh, I also started a new knitting project and hung a few more things up around the house. More on that tomorrow!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Hang Up 3!

Oy-oh-boy, The week got away from us!

Here's yesterday's hang up::

It's a new piece of art for the kitchen {the photo snapped quickly this morning with my phone}. I was searching for a piece of graphic word-art and fell in love with a few prints {like this one, and this one}, but I finally settled on a Storetry print from YeeHaw Press. I love that they describe the print as a series of rants ~ reading it makes me laugh and I feel like I'm reading excerpts from the script of a Coen Brothers movie. In the end this was the winning print, because I thought it'd make a great conversation starter/instigator when we're sitting around the table.

Of course, I really love "Lettuce turnip the beet", so I may have to make more room on the wall for that one!

And the hang-ups will continue into next week. Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Wednesday Soundtrack

Continuing with this week's self-imposed theme, hang up number two::

Strings! I was really excited to hang my violin and ukulele on the wall in the living room. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the ukulele was a Christmas gift that I'm still learning to play. I learned to play the violin in school, but never owned one of my own until a few Christmases ago when Calder gave me this beauty! Since I play both of them for fun, I thought they would get more action if they're easily available (rather than in the closet of the guest bedroom where they were hiding).

We bought these instrument-specific hangers and put them on the blank wall near our record player. Now we have a fun little music corner where you can grab an instrument, sit down, and play. C doesn't like a lot of clutter on his walls, but he gave hanging instruments on the wall a big thumbs up!

Now, on to the music, sort of. Just a bit of ukulele, Will Smith, and the MIB::