green friday!



folsom powerhouse

Who?  Postgreen Homes + ISA Architects

What?  31 unit housing complex featuring solar power, green roofs, advanced stormwater management

Where?  Center City, Philadelphia

When? Construction anticipated to start this fall

Why?  To “contribute to the neighborhood in a sustainable way to invigorate the area” (Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority).

…and remember to go green this weekend!




Upholstering LACK

If you happen to be lucky enough to have and IKEA around you, you have probably become very familiar with the LACK line of products.  If you don’t have an Ikea near you, you have my complete and profound pity (and, go look it up online).  Well, the price point on these little tables is pretty hard to beat at about $8 for the littlest:

lack-side-tableThat being so, they often get used and abused throughout their life.  My husband and I had 3 when we combined households (2 small side tables and 1 coffee table).  The coffee table got cannibalized for parts in the making of something else in the house.  One of the side tables is being used in our bedroom.  This left poor little, lonely side table number three which collected dust in the husband’s office (a.k.a. catch-all room).  So, to clear out the husband’s space and to see if we can make a buck on craigslist, I decided to makeover the lonely LACK table and try to sell it.

I saw THIS post on Pinterest which is pretty helpful with their instructions for first time upholsterers.  Luckily, I happened to have almost all of the materials on hand from other projects so I only had to buy batting to cover my foam cushion which cost $8 regularly (but I had a 50% off coupon, so really $4!) but you would need upholstery foam, batting, staple gun and staples, sewing machine (or lots of time to hand sew, or stitch-witchery and an iron), and good upholstery weight fabric.  I also did some piping which you could leave out.

I used the fabric leftover from THIS chair project which is super soft and neutral (and I had enough left!).  I first cut the foam to the size of the table top, stretched the batting over top and stapled the batting to the underside while pulling it tight.  You can spray-mount the foam in place so it doesn’t slide while you are doing this, but I skipped it – the batting and fabric keep it in place if you secure them tightly enough.  I then draped a piece of the fabric over the top and stapled it to the underside of the tabletop.  I did tucked/folded corners, but you could do any number of other corners (gathered, folded on the outside, sewn, etc).

photo (1)

Next, and you could skip this, I added piping around the sides of the tabletop, stapling it to the solid sides of the tabletop. And because I am cheap, I made my own piping from some rope that I sewed a fabric strip around on my sewing machine, but you can buy it ready-made.

photo (2)

Then, measuring carefully I made 4 fabric panels to hang over the legs.  You have to be extra careful that you leave enough material for the seams and to attach the panel to the table so that it hangs nicely without being pulled tight anywhere or being too short, etc.  I hemmed 3 sides and left the 4th raw where it will attach to the table.  You attach each panel by stapling it to the tabletop upside down so that when you flip the fabric back over it hides the staples and leaves a nice folded edge.  If you have a stripe or a pattern on your fabric, be sure it lies up the way you want it to – I had to triple check that all of my panels were vertically striped!

photo (3)

I hand sewed the seams of the fabric panels about 2 inched down from the top so that they closed nicely.  SO, here is the final (below);  I’ll have to update the post when I sell it and let you know what it goes for!


Well, we all know by now that I get antsy when things get stagnant in my home.  This has led to the painting and repainting of many-a-room, random craft projects, etc.  And, while the husband and I have decided not to sink any more major funds into this house, I still think that small changes can be made here and there, i.e. paint, reupholstering, crafting/sewing/art projects, you get the idea.

Here’s the background: we have made some relatively large changes to this house since we moved in even though it has always been a “starter home” for us (we bought this place thinking that we would live in it for 5-10 years +/- and move on once we have a kid or two).  Immediately when we moved in, we ripped up the carpets and put down bamboo (because of my dust allergies, carpet everywhere is a nightmare) to the tune of $3,000-ish.  We then had a series of Thanksgivings where some appliance would break so we replaced the dishwasher, disposal, and oven: $2,000-ish, we then needed a new HVAC system so we got a super-efficient one to help with the monthly bills and get the green-home tax credit: $7,000.  Then we re-did the bathroom since it was leaking and poorly done in the first place: $7,000.  So, for a starter home, we have already spent a decent amount on this place and we are at the point that, rather than spend more on this place, we can save and put down a sizable down payment on the next place.

That said, small things, like paint at $25 per gallon is still doable, or fabric to reupholster some chairs, or new drawer pulls…whatever.  But, from now on, I will be super-frugal with the home décor budget and favor re-use and re-purpose rather than replacement.

Anyway, the front door of our house has always been pretty blah to me – it is a pale, pale (and dirty) gray that blends in with the beige trim.  See below:


Ick.  I mean, not bad (we certainly have lived with it for 5 years already!) but not great either.  I would like something that pops a little more especially since we have a storm door in front of it also.  Now, the brick around the door is kind of pink so, to me, that automatically knocks out anything in the red/pink/yellow/orange category because it would be too similar.  Also, the husband has vetoed anything in the pale blue/teal category as “too girly” (think the color I painted my office).  SO.  What’s left?  Green.  I would love lime green, but I don’t even need to ask the husband what his thoughts on THAT would be.  Pink and green are great together being somewhat opposite on the color wheel – meaning they will enhance each other.  So to play on that idea without being “too girly” I am looking in the olive/bronze family.  Here are some of the options as presented by Sherwin Williams’ Color Visualizer.

Side note: The “Inkwell” color at the end I have used a lot in my work and is a blue/black that is very deep and sophisticated.  I may not use it here, but MAY repaint the bathroom with it (but that’s a story for another time)….

chrysalis vineyards

Well, chalk another one up to me being a wino – the husband and I, and a bunch of my work friends, had a wonderful Sunday tasting wine and picnicking at Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, VA.  One of the few wineries that doesn’t mind you bringing in outside food (in fact, they encourage it, providing gas grills for customers), we decided to carpool out, taste some wine, and sip on some bottles while cooking out burgers and dogs.

Well, it was beautiful weather yesterday (completely unseasonable for the DC area): low 80s, sunny and breezy.  The hubby and I decided to become VIP members at the vineyard which seems like a great deal if you like them and their wines: $50 for life gets you discounts, private parties, free tastings, etc.  So we wined and dined, played some corn-hole, and otherwise just chillaxed.  Lovely day…

green friday!


crystal palace

LampArchitects decided to renovate one of London’s abandoned underground toilets into a one bedroom home.  There appears to be a sunken courtyard but most of the light comes from glass block in the sidewalk above, yet, the designers have created an open and unique space.  This project takes advantage of a new kind of real estate in a place where space is scarce and reuses an existing structure which reduces the construction costs and embodies energy of the home.  Check out pictures from the blog documenting the process:

green friday!


architecture for hermit crabs

Artist Aki Inomata used a 3D-printer to create cityscape homes for hermit crabs.  Her work is meant to relate back to the idea of land changing hands in the history of the world’s nations as well as the personal ideas of relocation and impermanence.



the sting of guilt

OK, OK.  I give.  I can feel you all judging me – coming to my site, not seeing a new post in weeks, thinking all kinds of hateful things.  First, shame on you.  Second, here is a post about the random things in my life…you’re welcome.

With the oppressive wet heat of DC firmly upon us, the husband and I decided to get out of dodge and sojourn up to my roots in CT.  We went up for the long 4th of July weekend since it was my mom’s birthday and my sister officially became a Sister (check out her blog post about it here).  We ended up bringing the heat with us, but it was a great trip none the less.  I did find a really great stamped silverware store on Etsy while looking for some small gift to get my sister – this seller was great with the turn-around time and did custom stamping too.  Here is a sample:


I ended up with a vintage fork and spoon stamped with the bible verse from my sister’s blog which came out great and even arrived on time (which is a feat for me and online shopping!).

The following weekend, we ended up in Minneapolis for a friend’s wedding.  We brought the heat there too, incase you were wondering.  Also a great trip with lots of hanging out with friends and sipping wine, etc.  One touristy thing we did was go to the Mall of America – YIKES.  Way too big!  However, cool aquarium in the basement complete with a plexiglass tunnel that you walk through – literally surrounded by the aquarium fishes, like the weird little guys:

MN aquarium

Other than that, lots of random little things going on at home…fixing a broken vaccuum cleaner, painting my antique glass bottles for a craft project I’ll post later, getting rid of a bunch of clothes/junk to Purple Heart, and finding homes some new aquisitions…

One – got some black river rocks for my boot tray from TJ Maxx for really cheap but obviously underestimated the quantity by about 2/3!!!  Oh well, i’ll just keep my eyes peeled for more, similar looking rocks.  Sheesh.

boot tray

Two – this big African basket I got from World Market which I love.  The colors are great, pattern is cool, useful for picnics and markets, and was 40% off!  Gotta love that!


Three, and this one is fairly old, while at the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC with my sis, I picked up this matted vintage kimono cloth.  I have since framed it with my go-to IKEA Riba frame and hung it on the art wall in my office.  I love the print and colors and that it is something with a little history…

framed obi

Well, thats about enough randomness for now.  I’ll try to post something more meaningful later, but its summer and you should be outside anyway, so quit complaining!

house work DIY


you know you’re a wino when…

…you start crafting with your empties  OR avoiding the perils of container gardening – two equally appropriate titles to this post!  Full disclosure: I saw this craft on pinterest and decided to copy.

Last year, I faced the constant battle of keeping my container garden watered enough to withstand the swampy heat that is DC – and still my plants often looked dehydrated, thirsty, and all-around poopy.  So when I saw the idea on Pinterest to use your empty wine bottles as water resevoirs, I had to give it a try – let’s be honest, I was going to drink the wine regardless, so might as well reuse the bottles!

I got to work right away drinking my fair share of wine (YUM) and saved about 5 bottles to reuse.


Then, because I’m anal and didn’t want to look at sun-bleached labels on my bottles, I used one of my favorite products: Goo-Gone to get the wine labels off the bottles.

garden 2

Once that’s done, you just fill them with water, quickly turn them upside down and embed the mouth of the bottle firmly into the dirt.  If the pots are moist to begin with, the water in the “resevoir” will last a couple of days (of course depending on how hot/rainy it is) and only leaches out to a level of equillibrium with the moisture in the soil, thus never over-watering!  Pretty frugal and cool.  Check out my “gardens” and see if you can spot the bottles!…

house work



You may remember this post where I listed out all the things wrong with my house that needed to be fixed.  And it was quite a list.  Well, on that list were my sagging curtain rods in the living room.  We have a huge glass sliding door which is awesome and lets in a lot of light but is difficult to shade due to it’s width.  I had bought conventional rods and “L” shaped brackets at IKEA that I mounted to the wall (YES, according to the instructions) but I think the span was to great for the 3 brackets (one at each end of the rods and one in the center of the sliding door) and so the brackets sagged and started to pull out of the drywall.  Having just passed my Structures exam, I knew that a load perpendicular to the bracket would always cause more stress than a load parallel to the bracket to I began to search for a solution that would anchor my curtains directly to the ceiling.

I found a system at IKEA that, itself, is pretty inexpensive, but would have required me to get new curtains (because my current ones have big grommets at the top and the new system wouldn’t need a rod.  So with new curtains factored in we were looking at $100+ and I really didn’t want to get rid of my curtains in the first place, they were perfectly fine still (I may give them a makeover later, but that’s for another time!).

Then, I started thinking about making my own system with plumbing pieces (as is really popular right now – plumbing pipe DIY, that is), HOWEVER, I completely underestimated the price of plumbing pieces and had a mild stroke in the plumbing aisle at Home Depot (complete with rant – to no one in particular) when estimating the cost of the pipe pieces somewhere around $80.

Finally, I turned to my arch nemesis – AMAZON.COM.  I have a problem with shopping online – the hubby will attest – that a lot of my gifts bought online are back ordered or simply never arrive.  Anyway, I found these brackets and for 3 pairs – I have 2 rods to hang – I spent $50 (including shipping).  They are pretty sturdy and are adjustable within a few inches, so I didn’t have to worry about my curtains getting hung too high and then not perfectly skimming the floor like I like.

So, for this job, I highly recommend safety glasses – drilling the leader holes into the ceiling for the plastic screw sleeves can drop a lot of dust on your face.  And your eyes don’t need that.  So, I carefully measured out where the brackets could go, drilled the holes, hammered in the plastic sleeves, screwed in the brackets, and rehung my rods.  I also changed out the shears with some textured ones from IKEA that I had used behind the bed but thought better of later on.  My curtains are now sturdier than ever and will never sag again.  The End.  And here are some pictures…

web favorites


sophisticated florals

Well, my sinuses are telling me it’s spring again – a time of year that the trees around my house up-chuck pollen all over everything.  I got around to cleaning the big sliding glass doors we have 3 TIMES with windex and paper towels only to still have streaks of pollen on the door.  Clearly this most holy pollen war can only be won with a squeegee.

After I had emptied half a bottle of windex (with little result), I went to the local nursery and bought some plants for my container gardening this year.  Every year I plant tomato plants and last year even got lots of tomatos, HOWEVER, the rabbits around the hood (who I have all named “Klaus” – why not) all seem to LOVE tomatos and I got to eat very few of them.  So, the war on pollen has turned into a war on rabbits.  My sister, the chef, suggested I just catch and eat said rabbits, but that is more war atrocity than I can stomach at this moment.  So, after some internet research I found that rabbits apparently don’t like marigolds, mint, or cayenne powder.  So, surrounding my tomato plants is a sentinel of marigolds backed up by a beefy mint plant (which will make nice mojitos in the summer!) and i will sprinkle cayenne pepper around the plants when the fruit starts to come in.  I also planted basil and other florals, but I’ll take pictures and post them later.

So, it seems that the world has caught floral fever – not just me, and everything from fashion to furniture is getting decked out in spring-y awesomeness.  Now, pile all of these floral patterns on top of each other and it will look like your grandmother’s hanky exploded all over everything, but used judiciously, you can get a feminine and sophisticated look…

sophisticated florals

from top left to bottom right: capiz flushmount (pottery barn) $200; floral burst knob (anthropologie) $8; sakura full/queen duvet cover (crate and barrel) $140; strandmon chair (ikea) $280; vine flower silk pillow cover (west elm) $30; dahlia candle holder (cb2) $20; rosie rug 6×9 (crate and barrel) $300; klovsjo 3 piece art (ikea) $20.