Posted in Life

Working With an Interior Designer

Since I lived in one home the last 15 years, it hadn’t occurred to me that my furniture might not ‘work’ in a new home. Our rugs were the wrong size, we went from two living room type spaces to one, and I realized just how much of what we had came out of my parent’s house.

I never thought we’d want to work with an interior designer. I think I have a pretty good eye and decent taste. But, I found after we moved into a new place together that Jordan and I couldn’t agree on anything. In addition to not liking the same things, I learned Jordan couldn’t “see” something. I.E. I bought home two chairs to be reupholstered, and he was solely focused on how ugly the fabric was. He just could not see the lines. I realized I got totally overwhelmed by choice and was best when given parameters of what to look for or limited options. I also just really dislike trying to mix prints, patterns and colors. I don’t think it’s my forte. I like how things look when it’s all done, but I don’t’ find it interesting to put together for myself (or quite frankly with other people).

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I decided to blog this process because I had NO idea what to expect and thought it might be helpful for others who are considering hiring a designer. Originally, I thought interior designers were for rich people in fancy houses. But, I asked what people on Instagram and got a lot of support for working with a designer at any budget, that I decided to go for it.

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Listing Photo of Living Room

Enter our **designer. I selected our designer for a couple of reasons. I wanted to work with someone local, she had a great eye from what I saw on her IG, she had an actual working website that was extremely well written, she was very responsive to my initial email, and we got along well. Full disclosure: I went out of my way to make sure African Americans were heavily represented in the pool of people I reached out to and hopefully also lived in Baltimore City limits. I can talk more about that in another post.

 

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What came with us after our moving purge

First Steps:

The Designer had Jordan and I create a joint Pinterest board with rooms and details we liked. As expected, we were all over the place. He liked dark rooms I’d liken to a wooden clad games room. I liked bright colors and prints and a LOT of pink.

Before we started working with our designer, I replaced the dining room light with that modern sputnik influenced fixture. I also bought the Acacia wood table (seats up to 10) and china cabinet, but the dining chairs belonged to my parents. Rugs are 30+ years old from my parents, sectional was in our basement and belonged to Jordan’s aunt from 1976, yellow floral chairs from a second hand shop.

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Current state of living / dining room

Our main goal is to get our living room and dining room set up. We wanted to reuse as much furniture as possible, buy vintage and recover whenever we could and keep costs under budget. We can’t afford to do EVERYTHING decorwise we want in these spaces, so we had to focus this year on what the most important things were: recovering furniture, and getting rugs that fit– with the right size and scale. Yes, we need to paint, get new dining room chairs, and do ‘something’ about our mirror heavy / dated fireplace unit. But, those things will have to wait until 2020 or even 2021.

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So, I’ll stop here. Next update — picking rugs or what I call, “The one thing I knew I needed help with.”

**I’m choosing not to use our Designer’s name until after the project is completed.

Posted in Life, Machine Knitting

Craftivism and a Tendonitis Update

It’s not often (read: under duress  and rare circumstances) I make things for other people. I am more than happy to give away clothes I’ve sewn that don’t work for me. But, straight making things from scratch for others — pretty much only happens for Linus and Jordan (and in that order).

That should help you understand my absolute commitment to and love for my friends when I tell you I (with Jeannie’s help) knit 28 Pussy Hats for them to wear to the Women’s March on Washington last weekend.

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I never questioned whether or not I was going to attend the DC March. It was a natural reflection and intersection of my beliefs and politics. When I first read about the Pussy Hat project and saw it was easily adaptable to the knitting machine, I was hit with one thought, “I will knit these for my friends“.

So, I just posted a quick note on Facebook offering to knit hats at cost thinking I’d get a couple of replies. I was gobsmacked by the response. I heard from middle school friends I knew in Germany, high school friends living in Denmark,Spain and San Diego, college friends from LA and Spain, coworkers, most of my amazing and irreplaceable bookclub, Jordan’s bosses, Jordan’s former bosses and more.

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Now, God bless Jeannie. A few weeks after I offered to knit these hats my tendonitis started flaring up.  And, just when Jordan reminded me that I’d essentially entered into a contract with a lot of people (LOL)  Jeannie sent me a note and told me — not asked. But, told me, “I’m knitting hats for you”.  The sense of relief!

Let me tell you this. Walking down to the DC March and seeing scores of pink hats was an overwhelming feeling. I’m a very practical person and have previously thought the idea of craftivism a bit of an eye roll. But, it was visually impactful to see a united sea of pink. This Esquire article does a great job of discussing the historical intersection between fashion and politics.

During the day, as friends started posting photos on social media during and after the March I got all the feels. I was so happy to see the people in my life who support the same causes as I do and irrevocably touched to see them wearing hats made for them.

I wore mine out the night after the March to dinner. The owner of the restaurant shook my hand and said, ‘Thank you’.  A group at the bar nodded, smiled and told me they liked my hat as Jordan and I walked through the restaurant. It was a very long and emotional day and these small acts nearly had me in tears. It also helped me understand the impact of uniformity in a time of disruption.

I wore it in the weeks leading up to the march and I noticed as we got closer women started to smile at me, now after the march strangers are talking to me. Its a powerful thing to see people on the street and know you’re connected.

I read an article that noted that the there are three symbols of the march that are important because they took time, thought and planning, signs, the hats and clear bags. Nearly every woman (and many men)had all three of these things and it brought all 500,000 people together regardless of their skin color, background or religious choice.

— Renee’s friend Liz


Now, for my tendonitis. Thank you so much for your responses and suggestions on my last post about this. I saw a hand specialist at the hospital last Tuesday. It’s still tendonitis. I’d been afraid I might have carpal tunnel too. The doctor administered a cortisone shot to my wrist and my hand hurt like hell for two days (totally normal). Now, the wrist and thumb pain I was experiencing  has gone away.  I can type  with capital letters again! I can use scissors again!  It’s a week later and despite these improvements, my grip is super weak still. I can’t really hold a needle, cut with a knife, hold on to something for an extended period of time or type on my cell phone without problems. But, I feel like I’m on the mend overall. I’m giving it another week to see if my grip improves. I do miss lifting weights :-/ I mean, not really. I hate exercise but like the results.  Heh.


Whew. This post is so long! To wrap up, I’m currently knitting Jordan’s birthday present. It’s a varsity style letterman’s sweater. I have a whole Pinterest board with inspiration if you’re interested. Hopefully that’s what my next post is about 😀

Posted in Life, sewing, Travel

Belgium – Holland 2014

Now that I’ve got some of the sewing related stuff out. Here’s a final post on how the rest of the trip went.

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Before we started the bike and barge portion, we spent a day on a bike tour in Brussels. I’ve done bicycle tours in Minneapolis, Montreal and Shanghai. They really are a great way to cover a ton of ground and get an overview of the city.

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Royal Palace in Brussels

The Royal Palace was open for about three weeks for tours for the year. But, we could not seem to get organized around things shutting down around 4 p.m. Thus, I missed my chance to tour the palace. A theme which continued on in the Netherlands.

The Liege waffle might be the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

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I’ll also just tell you now. We had a lot of frites. I’m not that in to chocolate. I don’t think we even bought any on this trip. But, I ate waffles and fries like they were being discontinued. They say the Liege waffle has sugar in the middle. I decided it’s not sugar. It’s crack inside of them. They were that additive.

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After a day in Brussels, we headed to Bruges. It’s SO BEAUTIFUL. All I really knew about Bruges was from the movie, In Bruges. Guess what? There’s a Bernina store there! If you think the prices are high for Berninas here, the feet there would cost me 30 percent more because of the exchange rate. Ouch.

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Right-o. The bike trip began in Bruges. Our barge would sail during the day while we biked and we’d get back on board in the evening. The crew was great and the food was awesome.

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The biking was fun! I wasn’t at all prepared for it training wise, but you didn’t really need to be. That said, it was a lot harder for me now than three years ago. Jordan on the other hand thought it was easy peasy.

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We  saw castles and windmills and ate lots of cheese.

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We also visited a working dairy farm and bought more cheese than a cardiologist would approve of.

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I gasped in this room. We brought back three Gouda cheeses. We have 1.5 left…

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When we got on board our guide immediately knew our names. I asked how he knew it was us. And he said, ‘Easy. You’re the youngest people on the tour.’ Isn’t that awesome? The next person in age to me was 20 years older and they rode hard. Do you see why I can’t moan about being out of shape?? This guy below is from Australia. He’s 75. Jordan is the same age as his oldest grandson. And, he kicked our butts going up hills. He’s got the legs of a 35 year old. He’s in a bike club in Australia and has two hip replacements.. He was awesome. I tried to hook him up with Jordan’s grandmother but I suspect the distance between Melbourne and Maryland is too far.

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Along the tour we stopped in Utrecht and Antwerp before getting in to Amsterdam. Once the bike and barge portion ended in Amsterdam, we rented a flat for a few days in the Jordaan neighborhood. I got a total kick out of the name. Jordan didn’t think it was as funny as I did. I never did find him a tee shirt that said Jordaan…

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Our first day in Amsterdam we took a really fun food tour of Jordaan, the neighborhood we were staying in. We sampled all kinds of Dutch specialties including herring, Surinamese food, Dutch food (bitterballen), licorice, and Dutch apple pie.

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Sunday we hit the Van Gogh Museum and the Jewish Quarter. In the Jewish Quarter we stopped by the Portuguese Synagogue and the Jewish History Museum. We didn’t have enough time for my favorite museum, the Dutch Resistance Museum.

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Sunday night we saw an English language improv show with all American actors at Boom Chicago. Isn’t that amazing? American comedy in Amsterdam. And, the place was full!

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When you walk around Amsterdam, you can see in almost everyone’s window.

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Imagine how tickled I was when I saw a dress form on a canal house boat and a woman working away on her sewing machine!

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And of course, I still can’t get over ALL THE BICYCLES.IMGP1223

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It was a tremendous vacation. We chose our honeymoon in the middle of what I can only describe as the most surreal time of my life. Traveling, especially in Europe, reminds me of my mom in all the best ways. She always took us on trips and suggested places to go. Traveling was really her passion. This trip felt like closing the chapter on an emotionally complicated period and opening a door to the next phase.  The last year I’ve literally felt like the walking wounded. I didn’t realize  just how much was weighing on me.  I knew I was sad. I didn’t know I was crippled. I am honestly starting to feel like me again.

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Posted in Life

Friday Laughs: A RTW #Fail

I was recently quite taken with a whimsical Popsicle print in a dress from the Atlantic Pacific blog. I mean, I love the red, white and blue color combo and these are my favorite popsicles.

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From her July 4 post

The similar dress she pointed to was a scant 34 dollars. Yes, it’s poly. But, I super love the print. So I ordered a size large and figured I could take it in if needed.

Taking in not needed.

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Funny, right? That’s like a six inch gap. The bodice zipper is resting on the apex of my girly bits. I’m still not pregnant (nor trying to be). But, between the desperate need more length in the bodice and the stiff stiff crinoline at the bottom, it looks like a hoop skirt gone awry. I now see the teeny model wearing it looks a little pregnant too.

My mom always warned me about ordering clothes from catalogs (yeah, catalogs. I used to order from J.Crew ON THE PHONE  in college when I had the scratch. That was exactly twice.)

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This dress could not fit worse. I can’t even tell if the print is off grain. Again, this is a Large! I tried to get a 24 year old size 0 friend to take it and she ‘politely’ declined. Heh.  Maybe this is a sign to dress my age?

I think I will be turning this into a skirt….

Posted in Life, sewing

Bodice Muslins and Black Tie Weddings

I used to read about women who had a range of clothes in their closet for the different weights they were at. I’d never quite understood that because my weight was fairly consistent. I mean, I would go up in size, but didn’t yo-yo. Right now, I am definitely in a place where 50 percent of my wardrobe doesn’t fit me. I don’t love it. But, I don’t hate myself for it either.

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That said, this left me with a bit of dilemma this sewing weekend. I started on a 2007 Burda pattern that I’m making up for a ‘picnic wedding’ in upstate New York at the end of the month. Now, the old me sewed a 38 with a 1/2  inch FBA. Umm, no.

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The current me, after  FOUR muslins, seems to need a 40 with a 1.25 inch FBA. Heavens.

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Above is the 40 with a .75 inch fba (and the darts lowered and angled differently). I went ahead and added another .5  inch to my pattern because of pulling side seam *only* at the bust and some drag lines at the waist pointing to my bust apex. I didn’t muslin that one. So, let’s hope I don’t have saggy bodice when I’m done!

I’d rather have a dress that fits right ‘now’ than feel uncomfortable in something that’s just too snug and hopeful it will fit later.

So, which body do you sew for? The one you have now? Or the one you kind of want to have back?

Other weekend notes. Black Tie wedding was this weekend. This was the second of two black tie events that prompted J. to just buy a tuxedo instead of renting one twice. I’m still wearing a RTW dress. After these last two formal outings. I don’t know that I’m going to ‘bother’ sewing a formal dress again. I’ve made three formal dresses myself. And, the only home sewn formal dress I’ve come close to getting the same number of compliments as I do in RTW is this silver one. And, I put in a TON OF TIME for a dress that I only wore once.

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I hope to wear my two formals at least two more times. But, for the level of effort vs amount of wear, I’m going to have to go with the under $200 formal on sale rather then making one.  And, I’ll be honest, my RTW formalwear has details and fabric that I can’t do nor afford. And, because I CAN sew, it’s easy for me to make simple alterations to have a custom look. Maybe this will change later on in life. But, for now, it’s not worth it to me to sew these kinds of clothes anymore. What about you? Do you always sew your formals or do buy them?