Lesson Learned

Remember how I said I had a story to tell regarding the water damage I recently repaired on the first floor? 
Though it seems obvious now, initially, when this leak happened, I wasn't sure where the water was coming from only because it coincided with some heavy rain (that we've been without for a year) and I have a known water problem on the roof decks where the safety glass attaches to the parapet (that I'm in the midst of getting sorted out now).
Anyway, it took a while to figure out that it was coming from the laundry room on the second floor because everything looked hunky-dory in there, (but in reality water was running down the inside of the wall). 

There was no water on the floor and the hook-ups -which are under the folding table, looked fine. Honestly, I was most concerned that the outflow spout had been knocked out of the drain and that clearly wasn't the case. 

Upon closer inspection, I finally realized that the screw mechanism on the hot water supply line was cracked. The leaking was intermittent, I guess, because sometimes I must have been doing cold water laundry with no demand on this valve. I can only assume this is why I didn't draw a correlation of the leak to the laundry and instead did to the rain. Ok, so how is this crack even possible? 

From shenanigans like this. I can't even tell you how many times I've pulled my appliances out from their spots. I've moved them to adjust the lint hose, vacuum up lint, paint, repair the dryer, and repair the washer. At some point, I obviously put a lot of strain on that hose and it cracked. Bummer, however.....

This most likely never would have happened with a steel hose line even with me yanking. It cracked because it is plastic, yes, that's right, plastic!! What kind of idgit installs a supply line with plastic attachments on a second floor water source, when a steel one would be a much more prudent solution??? Grrrrrr. 

This is the type I have connected to my washer at the moment. They also make a burst free option, which is braided steel covered in rubber, which was not available at my neighborhood hardware when I purchased this. It is recommended that the washer line be replaced every 3 to 5 years -I did not know that! I still intend to swap out what I have now in the near future even though I feel this new one is sufficient for the time being (better safe than sorry).

So the moral of the story is that they make crappy plumbing supplies out of plastic, which don't hold up. Don't skimp on parts, because there is nothing like the heartache of an interior leak. 


Dryer Balls

I recently discovered the joy of wool dryer balls.
This could be a duh moment for others, but wool dryer balls are totally great and worth buying. I stupidly put off buying these because I had the crazy idea that I could make these myself, but at around 20 bucks for 6, that would have been just a dumb waste of time. I got mine from Amazon.

These lovely things really speed up the drying time and leave clothes soft. They are an excellent alternative to liquid clothing softeners, which cause mold in a front load washer, especially the big brand types because they have animal fat in them. Yes, grody, right?... the residual animal fat is growing that nasty gray mold shit in all the rubber gaskets. Dryer sheets are also a supposed no-no because they clog the lint filter and occasionally get sucked out of the drum and into the mechanism. The only drawback of dryer balls that I know of is the klunking, which is minimized by a large dryer load. Totally livable for me so far. 

One more laundry side note while we're talking about it: I have discovered that if I use oxyclean in every load, my washer does not smell, ever (I have a front load Bosch). I used to have a problem that my darks, washed in cold, would smell musty. Now, no longer -I think because the washer is very clean and has no residual stuff growing in there. 

Happy laundry :0, and weigh in if you have any thoughts.



This is boring as hell.
I'm painting the staircase wall (and possibly -most likely- the rest of my main floor and ceiling) and it's dull as shit but this is what has been occupying my every free hour this week and last, and this is after all a journal of projects, so here you have it. 

It sort of all started with this leak. This came from my laundry room and is a story in itself (worthy of a separate post) because there is a lesson to be learned here.

We've been living with this eyesore since Christmas and I just couldn't take it anymore. Actually I just couldn't take how ratty the entire staircase wall looked. Btw, that smoke detector is also ugly A-S. I'm replacing it with a Nest, even though I half loath myself for caring about that. 

I began by removing all the damaged material. This repair terrified me as I was not one hundred percent sure I could re-mud this edge perfectly. 

I used good old fashioned drywall compound. I have all the tools I needed from when we repaired the drywall in the garage after the rat invasion of the early teens. My technique was to build and fill the ridge over multiple days, giving a thorough sanding in between. Boy does that make a mess. 

This is after four days of filling and sanding. Funnily I found that a Swiffer Sweeper, with sandpaper taped to it, worked great for sanding this big surface flat. After all this, I primed with Bulls Eye 1-2-3 and so far have two coats of paint (Aura Matte Simply White). I don't think I'm going to be able to get this thing to blend, hence the need to do the whole effing ceiling, all 1500 square feet of it, argh.

After I had mostly wrapped up the drywall repair, I set upon the stairs. Oliver and I have been discussing for some time that our entire main floor and stairwell (three stories) need paint. It is an enormous job -a lot of square feet in a large open space with high ass ceilings and treacherous staircases. It'd be really expensive to hire this out plus the inconvenience of having someone in the house. Plus, I'm super picky and secretly believe I can do a better job myself in the end. 

Sooooooo, I decided to forge ahead and knock out the small outer wall with the yellow door at the same time as the perimeter wall.

The tricky thing about my stairs is that I have no baseboard along the rise of the stairs. We did this on purpose for a cleaner look but I consider this in hindsight to be a design mistake. Having no baseboard makes them pretty fragile and vulnerable -because it is just painted drywall. I've had a problem with shrinking caulk and peeling paint from the water when mopping down the stairs.

Well let me tell you, I patched and sanded and primed and caulked and painted and painted and painted again. They are looking a lot better, I can't wait to take off the tape (one or two more coats on this wall first).

Up next will be this wall, the baddest of them all. It's really high and really damaged. I managed to prop my step ladder on the stairs on the flight to the bedroom floor but here it's neck-breakingly high, so this'll be a two man job. 

Cheers and happy painting if there is such a thing.


Sewing Projects

Behold a bunch of sewing projects I've worked on over the past several weeks. Sometimes I work on things that I don't document very well because I'm squeezing in a half hour here or there of work between other daily activities.
All of these projects were made from my mishmash stockpile of leftover fabrics. Some have been sitting and waiting to turn into something for eons. I guess I hold onto shit because I never know when I might be able to use it.

First up is this dog bed I made for Calvin -which she clearly views as an affront, as she refuses to use it. Otis, a far less complicated creature, likes it just fine. 

Anyway, I must admit that this dog bed was born out of guilt. Its inner pillow is made from recycled beanbag fill -those nasty little foam pellets that never, ever, ever go away and which inevitably find their way to the ocean where poor creatures eat them. I'm embarrassed to admit that I actually bought that fill to make a beanbag blanket for Kit as a sensory item. He outgrew enjoying it and then I had it laying around the house. I couldn't find a place to recycle the beads and I couldn't bring myself to just throw it out. So hey, why not make a dog bed???

I started out with this wool, which I dyed to a more vibrant color.

I used Rit's Midnight Blue, and dyed in my kitchen sink with very hot water from the stove top.

I made the piping with some very thick (about 3/8")cotton cord.

The rest of the construction is typical to a box pillow method. These are the connecting panels. One for the front, and the one with the zipper for the back. Pin and sew so that the front panel overlaps the zippered section. IMO, box construction is super easy once you consider that one is just connecting a top and bottom with a panel that goes in between. Replacement cushions are easily fashioned from this method as is evident here and here.

I have ZERO pictures of the striped pillow being made. I love that fabric and have more so I'm sure I'll make a second in the same dimension. 

The bolsters are my very first attempt at this type of pillow. They were kind of tricky. Their true color is as it reads above (navy blue dyed linen). I took these photos with two different cameras and was unable to color correct in photoshop.

My first step was to cut the main body to size leaving a 1/2" seam allowance throughout. As is my common practice, I used a invisible zipper application in a contrasting color.

Zippers are made to accommodate a 1/2" seam allowance, so with a invisible technique simply align with the fabric's edge. I have terrible visual perception so I always pin and then double check that I have my orientation right (I've sewn many a zipper on the wrong side:/!).

This may seem counterintuitive, but I decided to use piping because I was not completely confident that I could sew a clean looking seam (without gathering) on the bolster edge. I have found that piping can mask imperfections at the seam.

As a foolproof measure, I turned the cover inside out and put in the insert in order to pin the circular ends in place. This worked great. I made the circular ends by tracing a plate (that -luckily- had the correct diameter) onto a piece of heavy card stock and then tracing that onto the fabric. BTW, I did my zigzag edging at the very end of this project. Sometimes I'll edge each section separately but in this case I didn't want to impact my edges and measurements at all during construction because precision seemed important. 

For me, bolster pillows read somewhat bedroomy but I'm still using them in my living room for now. I can move these puppies all over the house with that navy.

Finally, these seersucker euro squares. I had only enough fabric to do two faces and used white linen for the reverse. I used to have a duvet set that I made out of this which was awesome but disintegrated with wear. We really seem to go through bedding, I guess because I am a habitual hot water washer which must break down the fabric more quickly. I use hot water because I've read it's simply more sanitary for staving off bedbugs, besides that the dog and cat are on the bed constantly.

I resurrected this block print bedding, which I'd stashed away after the matching shams disintegrated, to coordinate with these cases. This cover comes from here -their website is not very glamorous but they've got super affordable authentic block print cotton bedding and fabrics.

I've got a lot of thoughts on bedding, I must have too much time on my hands, ha,ha,ha. Want to know more? Here.

Cheers and happy sewing!


Paint Update

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the prep I was doing to the trim in the small hallway that leads to the boys' rooms. I finished that job and just wanted to post a few "after" pictures of that project, even though it's surely not all that exciting to anyone but me. 

Everything is all white and crisp. I ended up painting the walls in addition to the trim. I'm not sure if I want to hang anything in here again, I'm liking how unbusy it feels this way.

Maybe you noticed when I was prepping the hallway trim, that there was a big white patch on Kit's door. That was a half finished repair job which had been like that for at least a year. Calvin sometimes scratches at the door to get into Kit's room and I had filled it and primed it but never gotten around to the top coat.

I removed the hardware and mostly used a small foam roller brush. 

Of course once I got started on Kit's door, I couldn't help myself and touched up a few others.



The Garden

My yard is super scruffy right now. It is super bad for a multitude of reasons but I shall focus on just two things right now -the lawn and the apple trees. (I say "lawn" but it really is just a patch because I have a typical San Francisco lot, leaving my back yard at 25 by about 60 feet).

After complete and undeniable failure, I have abandoned my hopes and dreams of having a luscious molate lawn. For a long time I just couldn't quit molate, as evidenced hereNow, finally, I have accepted the agony of defeat and am contemplating a new, far-fetched plan. I'd love to have a meadow of grasses and wild flowers. 

I feel this might be possible because whereas the "grass" area of the yard is covered in weeds and crappy weed grass that I can't seem to exterminate (I only pull it out compulsively, I don't resort to round-up or other pesticide/poisons), there has been a good deal of self-propagation by the Mexican feather grass and Santa Barbara daisies. I'd honestly be happy with an entire yard that looked like that. I could pretty easily and economically plant more feather grass and just let that take over (while at the same time continue to pull the crap grass and weeds) and figure out other grasses and flowers to mix in.

Secondly, the apple espaliers are overgrown and covered in white powdery mildew.

Try as I might, I still have not completely figured out how to prune these things. I understand the budding pattern of the tree on the left (lateral), but the one on the right still mystifies me. Is it a lateral or a terminal or friggin both?

Not knowing makes pruning this sucker somewhat nerve-racking. Additionally, flowering was very stretched out this year. I have pretty well formed apples on some branches and still new flowers emerging on others. Btw, last year I got a double flower season on one of my other apple trees presumably because of the very warm winter we had. 

Obviously, anything that had an apple or a flower bud, I kept. I pruned back the really long growths that were destroying the shape of the tree.

On the mystery tree on the right, I tied down the leader to make a lateral branch of it. There is another guy there that I think will become the new leader. 

As for the mildew, I found this source for solutions. 

I took a two pronged approach. First, early in the day, I hosed the leaves down with a strong spray of water. Later, I used a solution of this vinegar heavily diluted in water. 

We shall see.


Oh Mein Gott

Omg. Can you believe this shit show? How is this even possible, you may ask?

Behold the culprit, Otis. Cute, but super naughty when it came to these curtains. He climbed them, sharpened his claws on them, I even saw him shred them with his teeth in the end. Bad kitty, bad, bad kitty. I don't mean to sound so cavalier, because these were beautiful when they were made. That was almost 9 years ago, though, and they were badly sun damaged where he shredded them. The fabric had already drastically faded and really broken down.

I was very fond of these curtains which hang at the front windows of our main floor. The color was awesome and they hung beautifully. My plan is to replace them with wool in the same color. Wool will make them a bit less fragile to use and sun. Of course, I'm going to do it myself (although these were beautifully made by someone else). I feel pretty confident I can make these look as good as the originals because I did a pretty job on these in the master bedroom. I am planning to reuse the interfacing and the lining as they are both still in excellent shape.  

I have 10 foot ceilings and each panel here is about 100" wide finished. There are four of them. That amounts to about 24 yards of fabric, more of less, with a bolt width in the 50 plus inch range. With so much fabric, the cost of these can add up pretty quickly, even with the reuse of the liners. 

I have been trawling the wool section at Discount Fabrics here in the city with no luck. I've just begun my online search. So far Mood has not had anything suitable. If anyone has any suggestions for a good wool source please let me know. I'm trying to keep my per yard cost to 25$ or less.