Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas 2009

We've had such a blessed holiday break :) I'm completely convinced that there's no quicker or more sure fire way to make a house feel like home than to live out precious memories in it. Every birthday, every visit from the grandparents, every picture book read snug on the sofa, every evening by the fire makes this house seem a little more ours. Finally, after an entire year, somehow this Christmas made the whole place feel like home. No paint, no flooring, no window treatments can take the place of sharing the passage of time with people you love a LOT. More on that later :)

Here are a few snippets from Christmas morning. We went over to my sister and brother-in-law's house for the afternoon and evening, but we hardly took any pictures there. Sweet day, though. So, here are a few of our crew from the morning. Remember, I'm still learning the ins and outs of this camera...

Happy New Year, everyone!

May you have a blessed 2010 :)

Headbands from Larissa :)

Monday, December 28, 2009


They are perfect. Thank you :)

A Canon for Christmas!

I've been snappin' photos around here like it's my job, trying to figure out all the bells and whistles on the new camera Sam surprised me with! His parents are here instead of us being there, so I'll get some photos up in a few days. Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

One Year Frenzy-versary, Part Six: Our First Christmas in the New House (2008)

Blogland is slowing down as everyone's schedules are speeding up. Not sure if I'll get to our master bedroom curtain dilemma before Christmas. We're going to be out of town until New Year's, too, but I'll be back with Christmas 2009 pics, the master bedroom window deal, and some trim! Careful now, don't fall - I know you're on the edge of your seats :) So in light of the busy, busy weekend - just photos for this one, guys - although, I do have to say... wow, check out the previous owner's window treatments :) Good thing happiness doesn't depend on nice curtains (or a straight tree topper), eh? This was two weeks after we started moving in. Thanks for reading and...

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No-Sew Hemming for IKEA Ritva Curtains

I am thrilled to announce that I've now ironed the last of the Ritva curtains! I know, it's the little things that really thrill us, don't they? I thought it might be useful for someone to get a little peek into what all is involved in getting IKEA curtains from package to window. Admittedly, the directions (?) which IKEA provides were simpler, but I also think they would've resulted in a less-finished look. They recommended cutting off the excess fabric and leaving the edge raw (i.e. totally prone to fraying in the wash). Here's what I did to get our length just right and still keep a more tailored hem using the iron-on adhesive IKEA provides.

Before I measured out the panels on the windows, I washed them in hot water and dried them on our dryer's "permanent press" setting. I actually wanted the curtains to shrink a little. Much better to have them do all of their shrinking now, before I hem them, than to get them just the right length only to find them too short after their first washing!

After washing and drying the panels, I ironed each one with a hot steam iron and mist from a water bottle. For your benefit, I timed myself. Don't say I didn't warn you about the nerd factor. I thought, though, that it could be very helpful to know ahead of time that these babies take a while to get ready for hanging. It's always good to be IKEA informed :) So, for those who wish to know, each Ritva panel took about 20 minutes to steam iron after washing and drying. Or, to save you all the difficult math, 40 minutes per pair.

When I was ready to hang the ironed but still un-hemmed panels, Sam installed the Target curtain rods ($13 a pop - can't beat that with a stick... or with a pricier curtain rod). This is how we placed them - a full 12" past the window edge on each side, and nearly to the ceiling above. I stumbled upon this trick when installing curtains around the sliding doors in our previous house a few years ago. I had wanted to make sure the curtains didn't get caught in the door. Low and behold - the window looked twice as big as before, which meant it had twice as much impact in the room. After that, I started hanging all of our curtains "high and wide". Throughout this past year, I've read lots of others do the same thing. I felt very validated (and encouraged!) when Joni posted this - it's a window treatment must read and I was so glad to see that I haven't been too far off :) Check it out.

Once we had the panels in the rods, I pulled them out sideways one at a time to cover the window. Then, smoothing them down a bit (similarly to how they would be hanging - not too tightly), I placed straight pins in the fabric to mark where it met the floor. Like in the photos above and below. I wanted the curtains to just brush the floor - no space between them and the carpet, but also not puddling. Some people like their curtains with a slight "break" - like men's tailoring. That does look great, too, but I wanted the curtains off of the floor for practical reasons. Also, the Ritva curtains have a natural, loose pleating that hangs more uniformly if not resting on the floor at all. Plus, I just want to be like Erika. :) Or at least have some of her camera lenses.

I placed the pins on the side that you see when the curtain is hanging on the rod. We'll call this the "right side". For those who don't sew, keep that in mind. The side that shows in the room when the curtains are hanging is the right side. Not right as in "right" and "left", but right as in "right" and "wrong". Did you realize sewing was such a world of absolutes? ;)

On the ironing board, I laid the panel out with the "wrong" side facing me and the "right" side down on the ironing board. All I could see was the little bit of pin that came through the back of the fabric as I was pinning them. While the panel was still on the ironing board, I folded the bottom edge up, using the pins as my guide for where to fold. I folded all along the bottom where the pins were.

Then, I made sure the sides of the fold matched up. You can see in the photo above that I had to move the fold ever so slightly to make sure the sides were even. That's why the pin isn't exactly on the fold. I made sure the sides matched up and I had a nice, even fold before I pressed the fold with an iron. After I felt good about the fold placement and the edges, I pressed the entire fold with a hot steam iron.

Next, I placed the Ritva iron-on adhesive just underneath the edge of the fabric (now folded up and about 4" above my fold - this hem depth will vary depending on the height of your ceilings). I cut the length I needed and reserved two small pieces for the edges. Doing this made my longest strip a little shorter than I actually needed. I had extra adhesive because I didn't need to hem several of my panels, but without the extra I would just center the longest strip and use the 2 small pieces to secure the edges. I did not cut any of the fabric. This is important. I have no idea why IKEA would recommend cutting off the finished bottom edge at all. If you cut off the serged end (where all the zig-zaggy stitching is) your curtains will definitely fray in the wash.

I made sure none of the adhesive strip was showing above the fabric. I did not want to get that stuff on my iron! Stick-y. I steam ironed all along the width of the panel, being careful to keep my original fold placement and my edges even.

After securing the top of my fold with the adhesive, I placed the small pieces inside the fold on the edges (above). IKEA skips this step entirely. The consequence is that you'll have a little pocket of sorts showing on the side edges of your curtain panels. I didn't want a little pocket, so I chose to reserve some of the adhesive and finish the edges by ironing them together. This step is also why I needed to pre-press my hem before I added the adhesive. Otherwise, I could easily get to one end and have the edges all wonky and uneven.

I still might have had a little trouble at the very end ;) In this case, my edges were not exactly matched up, so I made a tiny fold in the "wrong" side of the fabric (which won't show when hanging, remember?) and ironed the adhesive in so that the fold remained and the edges were even again.

All finished! No edge pockets, no wonky edges, and no raw cut-line that would've been there had I followed the package directions!

For only $29.99 per pair, I suppose a little work is to be expected. The curtains were totally worth all of this in the end, though. They made such a difference! You all were so sweet to say kind things about them :) Thanks for the encouragement!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Curtain Call

I am now intimately acquainted with the Ritva curtains from IKEA. I've washed, dried, ironed, and hemmed 10 panels as of Friday, and a few months back I did the same to 8 more panels for one of the bedrooms, a closet, and the kitchen window. I can confidently say that I know these curtains :) Like all IKEA curtains, they're extra long, so if you're planning on doing this too anytime soon - count on it taking a while. They're big panels. They're also light, bright, and lovely :)

Before: original, aluminum windows and no curtains

After: new windows, new curtains :)

In Bedroom 2

Bedroom 4

In the Master Bedroom

We only have one window done in the master bedroom. The other master bedroom window is the last one I have to do. We may need to switch around the furniture arrangement in there to make the window placement look a little less wonky. Stick around - I think I'll do a post asking for opinions in a few days :)

So, then I'll just have the family room windows to do for now. Bedroom 3 has had its curtains for a little while, and the back room (SpareOom) won't be getting any for a long while - a workroom doesn't really need long, flowing white fabric. I'm planning on adding bamboo blinds beneath some of the curtain rods in the pics above. I'm fairly sure I want them there to cover up the dead space between the rods and the tops of the windows. If we decide we don't like them after all, we can always return them.

The First Layer is moving right along!!! The curtains really added a warmth and "prettiness" to the rooms, don't you think? I know, I know - they're a little boring all white and everything. Remember, though, that I'm working on establishing a neutral base in each room so that I can use COLOR in ways that are easy to change out and play with :) The color is coming, but first - the neutrals. We're putting our tree up this week (yes, we're so tardy!) and hopefully I can try out the bamboo blinds in the living room before the weekend!

Edited on Tuesday - My sister came over with her baby this morning to make Christmas cookies with us. Yum! It was the first time she had seen the curtains. We both thought that the living room curtains, especially, made the house feel instantly more homey and more "ours". Something about pretty window treatments just brings a cozy, lived-in feel to a room :) So the many hours of ironing and installing definitely paid off!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mama's Thursday Night Out

Since around February of this year, Sam has been literally sending me out of the house to have some time to myself on Thursday nights. I'm a fresher Mama afterward, much more prepared to love on my family and home the way I want to. Alone time is a funny thing - it can go the entitlement route where it's all about me, me, me (which I do not want), or it can really be a way to love my family (which I do want). It helps so much that Sam really encourages this time. He knows it's good for all of us, too :)

Tonight I had a little less time out than other Thursday nights, but it was still restful in its own way - and cold! Brrr. Have I mentioned my feelings about winter, yet? By the way, I just had our little point and shoot with me. I know my photos are never great, but tonight you'll need to be especially patient with my less than stellar photo journalism. Thanks. First off, I ran over to Target...

I'm such a paranoid nerd about germs this year. Wipe down my entire cart with disinfecting wipes? Why thank you, Target management, I think I will!

I was there to pick up a few supplies for our church's holiday shindig, Thanksmas, and also to nab a few more curtain rods. What do you know! They were on sale :)

I know I promised photos of the curtains, but it doesn't do a whole lot of good to have them washed and dried if you don't have the hardware, yet. I took the only 4 rods they had left in that style. Still need one more. And I need to iron a total of 10 more panels. Fun. But I was able to get those four curtain rods for less than $60! Yay.

After Target, I headed down the road to my usual Thursday night stompin' grounds - Barnes and Noble. I pretty much beeline right to the interior design section.

Although the holiday editions of several magazines caught my eye, tonight I had an itching to look at some architecture. If you haven't figured it out by now, friends, let me tell you a little secret... I'm a nerd. A big one. I'm always happy if I'm learning something new :)

So, I sat down with two books, a piece of Pumpkin Cheesecake and a decaf peppermint latte and got down to studying. A reader asked last week if I really feel like I learn from taking notes. Totally. Not so much at the time, but I feel like it helps me remember what I've seen and reactions that I've had to what I've seen. Over time, my notes are beginning to come together into a cohesive style and a plan. I've been adding to my notebook for about 10 months now and also saving a lot of images on my computer. Tonight's agenda, though, was architecture. Namely, woodwork.

Look! A Black Door in a book about period houses! So very affirming :)

Sometimes I write down bulleted notes. Other times I draw little pictures of photos that inspired me in some way. Some of the things I jot down are actual ideas that we could implement some day. Others are pipe dreams that will probably never make it off of the paper and into our home. But, in my little notebook, experimenting with ideas is easy, non-committal, and free :)

It's a lot of fun to think about all of the changes we're going to be making to this house. In a way, though, it's intimidating, too. That's especially the case if I feel like I have to make decisions without much confidence in my choices. By the time this whole thing is said and done, we will have spent thousands of dollars. A lot of money. I want to do what I can to form educated ideas of what I want so that our money is put to good use. And not only money - but work, too! We're pouring a lot into this house, and I want it to last for a good, long while. I've probably studied 15-20 large books this way over the last 10 months, and plenty of home magazines, too, in an effort to make good decisions with our home. I'm not suggesting that everyone do the same. Not everyone needs to! It's not all work for me either, though - I think it's fun to read and think about this stuff! :) I'm a student in my heart of hearts.

Told you... a nerd.

I usually close Barnes and Noble down. I did tonight, too. Then, I ran over to the grocery store to get some ingredients for my Thanksmas dishes and headed home. A quick blog post and that's it! Mama's Study Night is over until next week :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One Year Frenzy-versary, Part Five: Moving In & Working On The Previous House

One year ago this week, we were sleeping in the "new" house on air mattresses. At least, Sam and I were. If memory serves me correctly, my brother-in-law had helped Sam move the children's twin mattresses and box springs over in the van. Does that sound right? Maybe it was just the mattresses and not box springs. Anyway - we were sleeping here and it was a crazy, crazy week of back and forth, loading stuff into the van and unloading it again at the new house.

We had received the keys on the evening of the 7th (a Sunday) and some of my friends and I had started cleaning pretty much right away. We listened to Christmas music and scrubbed our little hearts out. Friends are so great, aren't they? By Monday evening, we were starting to move things over, and we were officially in the nasty, nasty "transition" period in which neither house is home.

Let me give you a little tip. If you plan on making a move from one house to another house that's only 30 minutes away... you still need to pack as though the move were across 3 states. It doesn't seem like that should be the case, but trust me, it's the case. From Monday through Friday, we decided I would just go back and forth from the old house to the new house and take things as I could. I would just put them in laundry baskets and storage bins. I'm not kidding. Remember, now, Sam would be at work at this time. And my sister, although close, had a 6 week old baby and really wasn't available to help (plus, as my poor mom reminded me, she and Daddy had their own hands full an hour north - a flu bug had her in the hospital to get an I.V.!) So - the children and I were going to move the small stuff. What on earth were we thinking? I'm usually so good at visualizing details and working through a plan systematically in my head beforehand. Apparently, those powers failed me last December. It all went down like this...

We'd arrive at the old house, all the children would pile out of the van (then ages 7.5, 6.5, 4, and 22 months) and I'd hurry and put as much as I could into my various containers, load the containers and the children into the van, drive back to the new house and unload it all in the kitchen/entryway, and then drive back and do it again. With the driving, the loading, and the unloading, each trip took about 2 and 1/2 hours. I did that 2-3 times per day for those first 5 days. Friends, believe me, this is an insane way to move. Never, ever try it. Pack and use a truck like normal people. Good grief.

We did rent a truck on that Saturday, December the 13th. We brought over some of the larger furniture, but not all of it. We were planning on leaving some of it so the old house (which still wasn't quite on the market, yet) wouldn't have to show empty. I think we had chosen a realtor at this point, and we had still been working on the old house, getting it ready to sell. Remember my yellow paint swatches on the kitchen wall?

Well, they were in the family room, too.

Which meant we had some painting to do before the "for sale" sign went up. We planned on getting to it during the time Sam was taking off of work around Christmas and New Year's. While we're on the topic of getting the old house ready to sell, here's what I was doing the week before we moved...

Because our previous home was a new construction, we had had plenty of landscaping work to do after moving in five years ago. This little area was planted the spring of 2008 - we never even got to see that sweet redbud bloom. This was the first half of a pretty long bed. The second half curved around the corner of the house and met up with the deck. We planned on planting it the following spring. Woops - but then we bought a house. Better figure out a quicker plan.

So, while the little ones napped (you can see SweetP watching me through the window), I covered the area with weed barrier fabric, put some stepping stones down (which we already had - score!) and...

...filled in around the stones with pea gravel. Sam connected the area to the existing flower bed later on by filling in between with topsoil about 3-4" thick. There you go! Suburban Ohio landscaping in December, ha. It would certainly show better than a weedy, muddy mess, anyway.

So, the gravel project was on the 3rd, I think. We got the keys on the 7th, moved in the most inefficient way possible from the 8-12th, and rented a truck to move some larger things on the 13th. I don't have any more photos of the whole process until we get to Christmas Eve 2008. I guess we were busy or something. It was nuts. We made it, but it was nuts. By the time my in-laws were visiting on the 27th, I looked like this -

Let's just say that I am very thankful we aren't moving this Christmas :)

So, the next Frenzy-versary post will be a look back at our first Christmas in the new house and (finally!) putting our previous home up for sale! By the way, for those who are concerned, it did sell. We don't have two mortgages any longer, praise God. More on that later...

Hope you're staying warm!


P.S. When I write Frenzy-versary posts, I hope you know I'm not after some kind of weird pity. It was a wild time that, honestly, didn't seem nearly as wild *at* the time. Looking back, though, I wonder exactly how we did everything that we did. The answer, of course, is that the grace of God is sufficient. He is our Strength and our Song. We're the ones who decided to jump in with both feet. The Lord graciously gave us what we needed to carry us through and let us come out smiling on the other side :) Our One Year Frenzy-versary celebration is about looking back at this time last year and remembering all the craziness that went on in 3-4 months time, but even more than that, it's a testimony of the Lord's faithfulness and provision.

Thanks for celebrating with us!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter House Plans: When It's Too Cold To Paint

November was unusually mild in our part of Ohio this year. We were able to get some painting projects in before the cold snaps really started snapping. Now, however, the cold has come (we scraped the ice off of the van windows for the first time this morning) and it's probably not going anywhere for a while. The forecasted high temps for this week (without accounting for windchill) are in the upper 20s and low 30s. That means that with windchill, it will be cold. It also means that painting season is over for a little while.

So, I'm sure you've been wondering what we plan on doing to the house all through the cold, gray Ohio winter when we can't have the windows open for ventilation to paint. You haven't been wondering? Oh, well I'll tell you anyway :) If you've read about our plan to complete a foundational "first layer" in each room of the house before moving on to the fun stuff (wall art, pillows, accessories, etc.) you might have a few guesses. If we won't be painting, what's left? I'll give you a hint, we aren't replacing any floors, either. Here's another hint, Shug and I went to IKEA yesterday and came back with six packages of white Ritva curtains. Okay, that was a little more than a hint, wasn't it?

I'm in the process of washing and drying all of the curtains now (I like to pre-shrink them before hanging). Tonight, I ironed the first pair and Sam hung them around the living room window. I'll show photos soon! The other 5 pair are going around the living room sliding doors, 2 pair in the master bedroom, and one pair in each of the remaining bedrooms (bedroom 3 already has these curtains).

Then... Sam's been working away on getting the trim going upstairs. He was off from work two days last week for our window installation. He was able to get a ton of trim up! Right now, literally, he's down in SpareOom cutting and hammering away on another "header" (I cannot for the life of me remember what I should really call it) that goes above each door. Trim is going to be a BIG part of the next few months. I cannot believe how much of a difference it's already making.

And, finally, I think we're going to be able to get around to some of the overhead lighting fixtures, too. Although we're still planning on a few special lighting purchases like the one in our kitchen, we also think the house could really benefit from some old-fashioned charm in the way of something like this...

"Since about 1915, the Jefferson has been an all-purpose household lighting star." Yup, that's what we need all right - an all-purpose household lighting star! These guys are a little pricey, but our thought is that since they are period lighting they are more likely to last for a long time without looking dated. In case you're wondering, we purposefully chose a trim style that corresponds to the same time period as the Jefferson. Here's a preview...

We're really hoping for a big character boost with these choices. Because of the cost, we probably won't be able to buy too many of these lights this winter, but I'm hoping for one in the entryway, upstairs hall, and possibly in two of the bedrooms. We'll see!

By the time some warmer weather starts rolling in, we should have the upstairs hall and bedrooms in great shape for some paint on the walls and on the new trim. I'm not going to fib, it is a little hard to not just skip right past things like trim and doors in our enthusiasm to decorate, but with every checkmark we make on these foundational steps, I'm more and more convinced that they are going to make a huge impact on our finished rooms. We both know our style well enough to know how much we are drawn to a little architectural charm. More on the new curtains and trim progress coming later this week!

Thanks so much for coming back to read about our bit by bit gains, guys :) We really love to read the comments you leave!

Have a great one :)