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And Then She Finished It

Was the kitchen-curtain-anticipation killing you? I’m sure it was. Sorry about that! Continuing:

After I pinned all the seams, I sewed them! I used a sewing machine, since sewing them by hand would have taken me ten years and resulted in very messy stitches. Sewing machines are surprisingly easy to use, even for a novice like me.

sewing

My seam isn’t even that wonky! (Try not to look at all the cat hair. There is a price to pay for Toby’s help.)

not so bad

Once all four edges were seamed, I measured the curtain rod (2 inches in diameter), and cut a three-inch strip of fabric to sew onto the back of the curtain for the curtain rod to slip through. I gave myself an extra inch so I could seam the edges and still have room for the rod to slip through.

Why does that sound dirty?

After I seamed the edges on the strip of fabric, I pinned it to the back of the curtain.

for the curtain rod

Then I sewed it all together! And then I realized that somehow I managed to make it a quarter of inch wider than the curtain itself.

oops

A bummer, but very easily remedied by folding and hand sewing the extra length into itself. I tried to take a picture of that, but couldn’t get the camera to focus in. But who cares, right? It’s fixed! No one will ever know I f*&%ed it up.

And that was it! That was the end! The curtain was finished! And also too narrow for the window. (Apparently width is not over-rated.)

kitchen curtain

I’d been aiming for a much more gathered look, which, as I discovered later when I googled “how to sew a kitchen curtain,” can only be obtained when your curtain is at least twice the width of your window. Unfortunately, mine is only about six inches wider than my window. I was super disappointed when I realized my error, but it’s started to grow on me. Mike and I aren’t really very ruffle-y people anyway.

How to Sew A Kitchen Curtain Like A Beginner

As I mentioned before, I have never sewed a kitchen curtain and I am not very good at sewing. In retrospect, this would have been a good project to, I don’t know, look up on the Internet prior to beginning, but we live and learn. I started out with some written instructions from Dopey:

instructions

Next, I imagined how long I wanted the curtain to be, and I measured the imaginary curtain against the window. Then I got real technical and type-A and measured the actual curtain fabric:

measuring 1

Eighteen inches in length by whatever many inches the fabric is wide. I don’t need to worry about width, right? As long as it’s wider than the window? Because it’s just going to bunch up anyway, so width doesn’t matter. Width is over-rated.

I don’t have a yardstick, so I used this giant yellow thing Mike has to make sure that I was going to cut my fabric in a straight line. I used a pencil to draw a line to guide my scissors.

measuring 2

And I measured from the top of the curtain down nineteen inches as I went along, because when I didn’t my curtain length got magically shorter as I went along.  See how my first pencil mark ends up at only seventeen inches?

measuring 3

But I fixed it! As you can see.

Once my curtain was cut, I measured and pinned half-inch seams on all four edges. Literally. Measure, pin, measure, pin, measure. I was terrified of having uneven seams.

Toby Helps

Toby helped.

really cat

But not really.

To be continued….

I DIY’d it.

did it

I re-covered the kitchen chairs. Finally.

I adore them.

The Office (Not the one on TV)

Welcome to our office/media room/guest room/den.

cuddle zone

The room is kind of tiny, and really stuffed with furniture, so it was hard to get good photos. What you’re looking at now is what I affectionately call “the cuddle zone”.  Since our bedroom is a pet-free area, this is where we curl up with the dogs and the cats to watch a show every evening. Right now we’re really digging Sons of Anarchy. It’s not very deep, but it’s fun to watch. Or that’s what Mike says. I don’t know because I usually fall asleep before the opening credits roll. He doesn’t get home until around eleven most nights, and by then I’m already in my jammies with my face washed and my teeth brushed. But he flops down on the sofa with a beer, and I stretch out with my head on his lap, a dog in my belly, one behind my knees, and a cat sprawled out on the back of the sofa behind his head, and it’s generally the best part of our day. (Amelia hides behind the sofa in the family room. She’s still getting used to being in a new place. The cross-country move was very traumatic for her little feline mind.)

Also, that isn’t really a sofa, if we’re going to be technical. It’s a futon. Which is great for when we have guests because they can put their bed together in a hot second. I just hope they’re not afraid of snakes because otherwise they won’t get much sleep.

(Note to self: In the future, it may be a good idea to refrain from keeping exotic reptiles in the guest bedroom, esp. if you want your guests to feel welcome.)

Directly across from the cuddle zone is the media station:

media station

There we have the television, the x-box, and the VCR. We own a VCR, but not a DVD player. I know. But VHS is awesome! And also the x-box doubles as a DVD player, so it all works out.

This room is, for all intents and purposes, completely finished. Except not really. Because for one thing, it really needs to be painted. How much cozier would it be in here if we painted the walls cafe au lait? It would be so. nice. Right? Tell me I’m right. More importantly, tell Michael.

And for another thing, there are some problem areas:

eyesore1

This is the kind of thing that makes my eyelids twitch.  I’ll usually grab Mike’s backpack and prop it against that tangle of cords because I’d much rather see his backpack on the floor than that cord-mess. The plan is to either build or purchase some piece of furniture that will hold our printer (which is currently taking up WAY too much space on the desk) and some office supplies, while simultaneously giving us easy access to the paper shredder and hiding that horrible little cord-mess. But we haven’t gotten around to it yet.

corner of pretty

This is not  a problem area. This is lovely. We’re hoping to preserve this loveliness when we put a table between the desk and the bookcase and pile it with office-y crap. I know desks and office stuff is important and useful, but I’d like for it to also be attractive and welcoming.

eyesore2

Originally dubbed “the box of anxiety”, the checkered box under the garbage can is now known simply as “the box of things that need to be filed”. (Thank Goldfish, because I don’t need any more anxiety than I already have.) While it’s fine and dandy that I went through the box and dealt with the things that needed immediate attention, now I need to go through that f*$%er and actually file everything. Unfortunately, it’s super low on my list of priorities, so it stays for now.

Also, everything under the snake tank is a mess. I’ve got to get under there and organize, but it’s mostly all the office supplies I want to put on the table we haven’t built to hide the cord-mess yet.

eyesore3

If the cord-mess makes my eyelids twitch, this makes me want to scratch my face off. Literally.

After I took this photo I managed to rearrange the storage boxes under the futon so they aren’t as screamingly obvious. I mean, they’re still under there, but they’ll stay there until I go through some of the crap in the closet and give some of it up. I just don’t need an entire closet packed with stuff I don’t use most of the time. Also, that loose speaker wire needs to be … dealt with.

The dog crate is in serious need of replacement, but again, Mike is hoping to build something beautiful and custom, something that doubles as an end table, so we’re dealing with it for now. But I should probably take my embroidery box off of it – I didn’t realize till now how it’s crushing in the top. That’s probably not real safe. #badparenting #excepttheyrenotkidstheyredogs

P.S. They like the crate. It’s their happy place. They go in there without being asked, especially when they see me with a nylon stocking in my hand.

Lastly, I’d like to find a better place to keep the TV tray and the baby gate. Preferably somewhere like the closet, once I go through it and carve out some space.

Oh my Goldfish, the list of Things To Do never stops growing.

The Feeling Sunset

pink sunset

Ten days ago…

champagne sunset

Tonight.

I realize that there is a super technical science-y way to explain why the sunset can be such different colors on any given evening, but when my children ask me how come the sunset is pink sometimes and yellow some other times, I’m going to say it’s because just like people, the sky has different moods and feelings. And how it feels is reflected in the colors it shows.

What do you think it’s feeling tonight?

Housekeeping

This week I paid someone to clean my apartment.

I was really nervous about it. Hiring someone to do something that is my responsibility felt like a reflection of my personal shortcomings. And a terrible waste of money. Why pay someone to do something I’m perfectly capable of doing? Help is a threat! If I need help something is wrong with me. And then of course I was worried she would judge me or think I was a filthy pig, so I spent all weekend fighting the urge to scrub the apartment before she came over.

It’s not that I mind doing the housework. I actually really enjoy it. (Except for the part where I have to put my hand in a toilet.) It’s time I spend nurturing my little nest. Making sure all the pillows are fluffed and the towels are clean. I use the time to think and reflect and when I’m finished I feel like I’ve accomplished something really valuable. Plus, I love the way everything shines. And Mike is great about housework, always willing to help, and actually, he’s better about some of the chores than I am. So really, there is no excuse for someone to have to come in and clean our apartment for us. We are perfectly capable of cleaning this apartment.

But suddenly we find ourselves busier than we’ve been in our entire five years of marriage, living the kinds of lives when all we can manage to do with a night off is collapse on the sofa in front of old episodes of Law & Order. I’m so busy that I consider it a luxury to spend ten minutes shaving my legs and he spends every spare moment he has studying. And it’s great, we’re happy, we chose this, I’m not complaining!  But something had to give. Neither of us can work any less and Mike’s education is a priority for both of us. We’re not going to spend less time with family or friends – we don’t get enough time with them as is. So housework had to go.

And it’s not that we’re dirty people, because it doesn’t matter how busy I get, I tidy up like someone with serious OCD. I probably am a little OCD, clinically speaking, because if things aren’t just so, I will f-ing freak out. Everything has a place and when it’s not in it’s place my eyeballs twitch and I can’t breathe and it’s not very pretty.  I used to throw terrible tantrums because of socks on the floor or a dishtowel with a smear of spaghetti sauce on one corner. I’d cry and bang things and scream, “When you don’t put the dirty dish towel in the hamper I feel like you don’t love me!” But I don’t do those things anymore. I’ve learned. Now I tidy up constantly, all the time, I am always tidying. It’s easier for me to take five seconds to toss a dirty dishcloth in the hamper instead of screaming at Mike about it because really? He doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. Especially since I’m the one with the problem. But when I’m working this much and he’s working and going to school and we’re trying to maintain healthy social lives and get adequate exercise and all that other stuff, even if we can maintain the basic chores like laundry and dishes and litter boxes and dog walks and paying bills on time, we can’t manage the big things like shower scrubbing and floor mopping. And when those things get ignored and start growing orange fur, my skin starts itching and I  wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding and adrenaline coursing through my veins from nightmares about dead babies in filthy bathrooms crawling with cats.

So you see, it’s not really an option to give up on the housework. And that is why we are paying someone to clean the apartment for us.

You guys. She cleaned things I haven’t even had time to imagine cleaning. She scrubbed the teakettle so now I can see my reflection in it. She did all the dirty work in the bathrooms that I loathe and despise, and then she polished my perfume tray. She moved everything off of every shelf and surface area and dusted behind and underneath and around. She washed the screen door and the windows and she scrubbed the balcony, in addition to emptying the dishwasher, taking down the trash, and mopping the floors. What would’ve taken me twenty-four hours of work, broken up only by naps, she finished in four and a half hours. She is a miracle worker. I invited her to come back in two weeks. And then I hugged her and cried on her shoulder while wads of sticky anxiety flowed off of me.

In the aftermath of this stunning cleaning symphony, I lounge on the balcony, blogging, feeling completely relaxed because not only is the shower cleaner than it’s been in two months, I didn’t have to do any of the work.  The only thing better than a freshly scrubbed toilet is a freshly scrubbed toilet someone else scrubbed. I don’t get manicures or pedicures, I never go to the spa, I don’t get any of my parts waxed, I only get my hair cut twice a year, we hardly ever go to the movies or out for dinner, but we pay someone else to clean our apartment and as far as I’m concerned, that is more luxurious than any manicure or facial ever could be.

He Does What He Wants

outside

This morning he stood in front of the screen door, staring at me expectantly. What do you want, little dog? I asked. He reached out with his left front paw and scratched the door. So I opened it, and watched with surprise as he tottered over to his bed on the patio, curled up, and went to sleep.  Apparently, he wanted to spend some time outdoors.

I snapped that photo and then decided to take a cue from the wiener, grabbed my laptop and my coffee, and spent my morning working with the sun on my back and a breeze in my hair.

Lovely.

In Other News

cracked

I have man-hands

There is a crack in the bathtub of our second bathroom. The bathtub that rarely ever gets used, except to bathe the dogs and when we have the occasional overnight guest. Which is almost never. But do you know what happened when I told the landlord? Not only did she schedule someone to come and fix it within the week, but she also told the bathtub-fixer-man to go ahead and refinish the entire inside of the tub, including the shower walls and everything. Just because.

If we’d gotten a crack in our bathtub in New York City (our one and only bathtub that between us was used every day at least two times, four in the summer), the super would have stuck a wad of chewing gum in it and called it fixed.

#iloveLA

Will Work for Books

I sort of kind of feel like all I ever talk about anymore on this here blog is our apartment, but to be fair, it is the most exciting thing we’ve got going on in our lives right now. I hope all these posts with photos and updates of our little valley pad aren’t beginning to bore you, because really all I want to do is make you happy, but I’m sort of like a freshman in love with a senior and all I can do is gush and gush and gush and gush and write run-on sentences. One day soon I’ll be totally over it, I’ll have moved on to college boys – er – something more interesting than an apartment – and you won’t have to hear about it anymore. But until then….

Family Room Update!

familyroom2

We went to Ikea this weekend and, honestly? That place is the devil. We had a budget we swore we would stick to, and while nothing over $15 went into our cart, we still ended up going over our budget by a hundred bones. Yikes. Shopping isn’t super fun for me because I tend to feel hideously guilty over my purchases, even when my purchases are shelves I’ve been dying to get and fifty cent glasses so we don’t have to drink water out of coffee mugs anymore.

Speaking of shelves, I’m not really sure how I feel about them. They remind me a little too much of the shelves I had in my first college apartment, so I can’t help but feel like they lend an unwanted dorm-room flavor to the living room I had hoped would have a more library-like feel. Here’s the room from a different angle:

familyroom1

Also, I’m not sold on the shelf arrangements. I really wanted the shelves to contain only books, but I am clean out of books. The ones that are up there now I stole off of the bookcase by Mike’s easel, which worked out because now he has space for all his paint supplies and he doesn’t have to keep them on the floor anymore. Score = Everyone wins!

fireplace

Here’s his little painting corner next to the fireplace. Where I lean my bicycle. I mean, why not? We still haven’t purchased logs for the damn thing, so why not use it for something? (Clearly, we still haven’t figured out where to keep my bicycle either. Sad face.)

I’m not entirely sold on those shelf arrangements either, but they’ll have to do for now. Also, man, I wish we could paint the walls. We actually got permission to paint, but decided not to because it’s a lot of work to put into a rental and we’d rather save the time/money/energy for a place we purchase. I have to keep telling myself that. This is a rental. When we own we’ll have so much more freedom to make it look exactly how we want it to. In the mean time, at least the family room no longer looks like this. Or this. Or this. Improvements! Small ones, but still.

There is still a lot I want to do in here. On my wish list? A table that will fit behind the futon for plants. And more books so that the shelves will be covered with books instead of chachkis and tabletop frames. An enormous area rug to hide the horrible stains left by the previous tenants, which I’ve shampooed a million times but still persist. New legs for the coffee table. A cover for the futon, something I can pull off and wash weekly because with four animals, I have to. And bright throw pillows to bring more color into the room. Here are some fabrics I’m thinking of making additional pillows out of:

patterns

What do you think? If you’ve got any suggestions for what we could do to (cheaply) make this room fabulous, I would LOVE to hear them.

Kitchen = Love

So I lied about having unpacked our last four boxes this past weekend. I didn’t lie about unpacking four boxes, I really did that, but the other day I found a fifth box hiding away in the kitchen cabinets. There were five boxes, not four. And actually, there might be a few more hiding around here somewhere, I have no idea. Mike says if we find boxes we didn’t even know were missing we shouldn’t bother to keep the stuff in them, but I say he should not speak poorly of our beloved … items. Whatever they are. Anyway. That’s not what this post is about. This post is a kitchen update!

Remember when I said I wanted to start a collection of vintage everyday dishware for the shelf over my kitchen window? Ask and ye shall receive!

vintagey

Oh, can you not see all the way up there? Here. Let me show you a close-up:

collection

I know! I know! Isn’t it cute?? I love it so much that when I see it I squeal like a girl. I have my mother to thank for practically everything up there. Each item is either vintage or antique, and almost all of it has sentimental value. If you click over to my flickr page and mouse over the photos, you’ll see I put notes over everything for anyone who might be into that sort of thing. Mike’s priority task for this week is to put a lip on that shelf so when we get a good ol’ California shaker we won’t lose all of those pretty things to the inevitable nasty fall.

kitchen

I love our kitchen. I really do. These photos don’t do it justice at all. For one thing, it looks way more cluttered in the photo than it does in real life. The photo sort of looks like a mess, but in person it just looks cozy and wonderful. And all of the items sitting out are things we use on an every day basis, so it’s nice that they are so easily accesible. See?

cute not cluttered

Not cluttered! Cute!

Here’s a photo of what the kitchen looked like the last time I posted. The changes since then have been small ones, but we think they’ve made a big difference:

sideboard

There is so much that we would love to do to this kitchen if we owned this place. For one thing, we’d replace all the cabinets. I don’t know what we’d put in, but it wouldn’t be that. Then we’d paint the walls and of course we’d put in new counters. But I think the first thing we’d do, before we did anything to the ktichen or any other room, is rip out the carpeting and put in hardwood floors.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate our carpeting? (It’s awful.) But I love our kitchen!