Monday, February 19, 2018


We made settlement on Monday, and arrived at the title company's offices with our car loaded up like the Beverly Hillbillies on their way to California.  As soon as the last papers were signed, we dropped our first load of stuff at the new house.

Although it's much smaller than our current house, it seems to be absorbing things well enough so far.

Saturday we rented a friend's son-in-law for the day so that Mario would have help removing the first floor carpet and pad.  They knocked that out really quickly and managed to get the drop ceiling out of the two rooms on the second floor before we had to return him.  I got the kitchen painted while they were doing all that.

The only thing slowing down progress right now is the remaining gunk on the living room and dining room hardwood floors.  The carpet was laid in 1968, and despite nearly 50 years of use, it was still in really good shape (though a totally different color than it was originally, which we only realized when the sofa came out).  The pad also seemed pretty springy, but when it was pulled out, it was obvious that 50 years of foot traffic and yearly rug shampooing had caused some of the foam pad to stick to the hardwood.

Other than that, the wood is in excellent condition, still with a nice shellac shine.  I just spent a good 4 hours yesterday squatting, kneeling and lying on the dining room floor with a pastry cutter, which turned out to be the best implement on hand to scrape with.  I tried wetting the dried foam with a solution of dish soap and water, and that helped a bit.  Someone else suggested vinegar and water, on the assumption that vinegar cuts almost anything.  Another person suggested wallpaper stripper as a non-toxic option that removes unpleasant dried-on substances.

I'm open to other suggestions, if anyone has one.  What would you use to soften dried-on, dried-out carpet padding stuck to shellacked floors?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Tiny house

I have to remember, this didn't
always look like this. 
Have you ever going back to your childhood home, and realized it was much smaller than you remembered? How did you live in that tiny space? And why did it seem so much bigger in your memories?

Yesterday we did the final walk-through of the new house prior to going to settlement on Monday. The sellers did a fantastic job of emptying the house. The garage and basement are just empty spaces waiting for us to load them with our stuff. Likewise the other rooms, except for one small detail - they're small.

Honestly, the house isn't that small. It's just under 1200 square feet which is by no means a tiny house, but after 18 years of living in a three-story house with a walk-in attic and a full basement, this feels like something you can tow behind your car.

I think right now, surrounded as we are with boxes and all the furniture in wrong places and all the art off the walls, it seems like an enormous amount of stuff we're trying to cram into a small space. And I probably am being a bit unrealistic about how much will fit, but that's why thrift stores were invented. There's a very nice one just down Baltimore Avenue from the house, and I'm sure I will become even more familiar with them as things don't fit into the jigsaw puzzle I am building.

Soon, this won't look like this either.
I do know, however that once we are in, settled, and everything is put in its proper place, we are going to be very happy here. It's a much better size, it's a far more practical house, it's a lovely community, and it will be good to live in a place that we have chosen together.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Book Sale, part 2

Round one of the book sale is over, though there are a few leftovers - some not purchased, some purchased by overseas buyers who (intelligently) canceled when we realized the price of shipping.  But there are still more, and here they all are. 

Photos and links are from Amazon, so you can read more about them and see current pricing.  Shipping will be via media mail, and I'll let you know the cost when you claim the book.  Payment via PayPal only, and for your sake, as well as mine, U.S. buyers only.

Contact me via email at karen6790 @ msn . com (without all the spaces) to let me know what books you want.

Pattern Drafting for Dressmaking, Pamela Stringer.  All line drawings.  Very thorough instructions.  Paperback, excellent condition. $20

Couture - The Art of Fine Sewing, Roberta Carr.  Published by Palmer/Pletsch.  Some of the illustrations are dated, but the tips and techniques are eternal.  Paperback.  Minor edge wear to cover.  $7.50

Famous Frocks, Sara Alm & Hannah McDevitt.  Includes 10 patterns.   Excellent condition.  Hardcover. $10.

The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction, Edna Bishop.  Revised edition.  Some edge wear, but good condition overall.  Fabulous resource; I have an extra copy of this that isn't leaving my shelves.  Paperback.  $5

Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit, Stefani Lincecum.  Subtitled "Using the Rub-off Technique to Recreate and Redesign your Favorite Fashions.  Excellent condition, paperback.  SOLD

Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework.  Excellent reference, as good as their guide to sewing, which is what I use for classes.  Hardcover.  Very good condition.  Free with cost of shipping. SOLD

Patternmaking, Dennic Chunman Lo.  (Portfolio Skills - Fashion & Textile).  Brand new.  Looks like a very thorough, well-illustrated text.  Paperback.  $15.

Cool Couture, Kenneth D. King. Excellent condition, signed copy from PatternReview weekend 2010 in Philadelphia.  Paperback.  $7.50

Basics of Fashion Design: Construction, by Anette Fischer. Covers pattern drafting, draping and construction techniques.  Good photos and drawings.  $5

Fashion Designer's Directory of Shape & Style, Simon Travers-Spencer and Zarida Zaman.  Very useful resource, very good condition.  Paperback.  $5 

Classic Tailoring Techniques, a Construction Guide for Men's Wear, Roberto Cabrera.  Excellent tailoring reference, especially for all the interesting structural challenges involved in menswear.  Paperback, like new condition.  SOLD

Secrets of the Couturiers, Frances Kennett.  Very good condition.  Some of the fashions are dated, but others are vintage, and all the techniques and illustrations are solid.  Hardcover.  $5 

African Art in Needlework, Leslie Tillett.  Subtitled "Motifs inspired by African Culture," this book shows a lot of traditional garments/textiles, and then breaks down the motifs so that they can be reworked, not strictly replicated.  An unusual find.  Paperback, some edge wear.

Fine Machine Sewing, Carol Laflin Ahles.  Machine methids to get the look of hand finishing and embellishing.  Paperback.  $7

High Fashion Sewing Secrets from the world's best designers, Claire B. Shaeffer.  A step-by-step guide to sewing stylish seams, buttonholes, pockets, collars, hems & more.  Retired library book, a few stamps and a label on spine, but the book is sound, with only a bit of edge wear.  The styles may be a bit dated, but the information is great.  (It's Claire Shaeffer, after all).  Hardcover.  $7

The Complete Family Sewing Book.  Vintage 1972 ring-bound reference.  Fabulous illustrations, with the best of 1970s fashion.  Solid technical information.  $5

Art Deco Textiles - The French Designers, Alain-Rene Hardy.  A beautiful reference of 1920s-1930s French textiles.  Paperback.  SOLD

Patternmaking for Fashion Design, Helen Joseph Armstrong.  Classic textbook.  1987 edition, dated clothing but fantastic instruction.  Some writing in book, but does not obscure the information.  Definite wear on spine and edges.  Hardcover. SOLD

BiblioCraft: Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects, Jessica Pigza.  Excellent condition.  Gorgeous, inspirational book.  It's done its work here, time for it to move along.  Hardcover.  $7

Please, for the love of all the sewing gods, take some of these off my hands.  Email me directly with your shopping list, I'll mark books off as they sell.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

New old machine

Say hello to my little friend.

I bought this machine over 10 years ago. She worked beautifully, and then one day she didn't. The zeros on the digital display just kept blinking and circling, and wouldn't let me select a stitch. I took it to my repairman, who mostly works on mechanicals. He was stumped and handed it over to a friend, who dealt mostly with electronic machines. Neither of them had a clue what was wrong. I decided to put it away until I had the time and money to take it to a Juki repair shop.

Fast forward. Now that I'm packing, I pulled the machine out to give it a last once-over before giving it away. I turned it on, the same thing happened with the display, and after I had pushed all of the obvious buttons and turned all of the obvious switches, I happened to notice that the bobbin winder knob was pushed in. I moved it out, and voila! A functioning machine, which defeated two repair men, and has been sitting in a box under a table for 10 years.

Mario totally didn't understand the level of swearing this provoked.

Also, I never wind bobbins on my machine, so it getting moved at all was an accident.

All of us were looking for a complicated problem, and when you do that, you don't see the stupid staring you right in the face.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Not according to plan

There have been some changes in my plans for the new house. The downstairs consists of the living room, a dining room through a large archway and the kitchen. And that was my original plan for those three rooms.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was at a friend's house and I noticed that her dining room did not have a dining room table. Instead it had a couch, a desk, and all her bookcases. And on my walk home, I thought, why not?

In our current living room we have seven bookcases, all full, and my desk. I really don't want those things in the new living room, because it'll make it feel too crowded, and also because I want my desk out of direct earshot of the television. It's hard to write or do anything when the news is constantly shouting in the background.

And I know better then to try to turn down the news.

Table top?
So, a book room. An office. A library, a den, a sitting room, a parlor, a salon. One of those things, we haven't yet decided what it's going to be called. But the next thing I will be putting up on the Facebook internet yard sale will be my dining room table.

The new house is smaller, and we need to use the space wisely. Having a separate room where the books can live and where I can flop on a love seat and read while Mario watches TV in the other room is a far better use for the space than keeping it as a showcase for some nice furniture and a place to eat twice a year. At first I was a little iffy, but now I'm actually quite excited about it.

The problem: what to do with all the art currently on the dining room walls. It's a big room, with high ceilings, and even if the new room wasn't mostly being filled with bookcases, there wouldn't be enough wall space for all this. So some of it stays, some of it goes, and for one large piece, I have an idea.

The room in question
Is it totally weird that I want to put legs on this piece and turn it into a coffee table in front of my new love seat? It would take up too much wall space but I think it would actually make a really cool table. The glass is thick enough that using it as a table top, and maybe putting the occasional sock feet on it, won't break anything.

I'm going to give it a shot.  I might even have something around the house, in the attic or the basement, with legs that could be frankensteined onto it. Stay tuned

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Kitchen capers

I've always been a nester. A decorator.  Someone who likes to fiddle and fuss with her home until it's perfect. Except my perfect isn't perfect, it's comfortable

I like old things, pieces that have some history and life to them.  And I like color.  Lots of it.  And prints.  Nothing will make me crazy faster than white walls.

The new house has all white walls.

But these aren't bad; it feels like the previous owners, an older couple, left me a lovely blank slate to start with. 

Take the kitchen.  It's dated. It's probably the tiredest room in the house, but I like it.  The layout is very comfortable for the way I cook. It's big enough for a table and chairs and two of my vintage freestanding cabinets, and the existing kitchen cabinets are all in really good shape.  They're just dark, and make it feel gloomy.

Enter paint, my favorite thing.  Cabinets will be lightly sanded, and painted cream to match my vintage ones. New hardware.  Walls are going to be a warm squash/orange color called "guppy."  I'll reuse my current curtains and some of the art, and I think with very little money or effort, this will become a bright, cheery room where I will love to spend time.

My current kitchen, much as I adore it, looks out onto the alley and gets no direct sunlight.  These photos were taken on New Years Eve in the afternoon and are still bright.

Oh, and that light fixture?  Its days are numbered.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Third time's the charm

After the house fell through, there was another one we liked.

Turns out they got an offer on that one while we were walking through.

This is house #3. Actually, it's about house #12, but the third serious option.

It's just big enough. 1200 square feet.  Roughly half the size of our current living space.

What color wine goes with panic?