Advanced Sewing

This is not a How-To.  It’s an I-Wish-I-Knew-How-To.

Sometimes it’s the little updates that make me smile so much. I bought this beautiful picture from Crafty Bastards last weekend. This piece is made by a lady named Jamie and here is her Etsy shop.

I hung it where I will see it every day and it makes me so happy.

Until I look at the almond, paint-covered light switch below. I need to stop obsessing over stupid crap.


Tufting Lessons: What NOT to Do

Ok, FIRST OF ALL, I carried that one hundred ton headboard upstairs all by myself. That’s the big deal here. Points.

But before I even covered it, I measured (gasp!) and marked the spots for the — tufting buttons? — what are they called? And I drilled holes in the MDF before covering. Behold.

Transported upstairs! ALL BY MYSELF!

And it sat there behind the bed sadly untufted for weeks.

I had already made the buttons, which was really fun and slightly mind-blowing. I went to the craft store last month with no clue what to buy for tufting buttons.  After staring at all the actual buttons I found this kit to make fabric covered buttons.  Seriously, guys, I had no idea this technology existed.  I brought it home to give it a try and just LOOK how fun and easy it is.

I finally found a long enough needle to do the tufting. Kind of. Mostly. The longest actual needles I could find in the stores were four inches long. This is something called a Ball Point Bodkin. (A quick Google taught me that bodkins are used for pulling ribbons or elastic or whatever you want I guess through fabric corridors. Fascinating.) I still had to really push it through and then pull out the other side because I clearly made the whole thing too thick.

LESSON ONE: You do not need heavy MDF. Use plywood.

LESSON TWO:  You do not need 4″ padding. Use 2″. It will be fine. No. It will be BETTER.

For the actual tufting, I turned to the internet. The internet actually had lots of ideas about how to secure the thread to the back of the headboard, because the internet is smart.  My favorite plan suggested I tie a washer to a piece of heavy duty thread, send it through the back with my needle (bodkin), grab the button, push the thread back through, pull taut for the tufting effect, and tie the loose end to the washer to keep it tight. Love it! And I had washers so didn’t even need to go to the store.

When I finished with them all, there were buttons evenly spaced, but not really tufted. It was difficult to tie the string to the washer after threading the button while simultaneously keeping it pulled tight through that four inch upholstery foam. (Seriously. Don’t use that. Use something else.) Still pretty.  But I wanted that bounce, y’all.

I figured out that I could pull the washers a bit and then duct tape them to the MDF board to get a little more tufting action. Voila.

RECAP: This the opposite of the correct way to tuft a headboard. It doesn’t need to be so big. I bought this cool french hook clasp thing to hang it on the wall but it is so big that it just sits on the floor. It doesn’t need to be so heavy. Regular plywood is much lighter. It might be a little bendy at first but once you staple the batting around the foam, and then add fabric, I’m sure it will steady itself. Don’t use four inch think foam. This headboard is super padded, and that’s nice and all, but I think it could be just as padded with half the foam, and I would have been able to use a regular upholstery needle. Learn from my mistakes.

Back From LA

Back on the East Coast, hoping Sheryl Crowe’s ‘All I Wanna Do’ will finally get OUT OF MY HEAD. We were actually in West Hollywood (or WeHo, which I refuse to say). And we kept crossing Santa Monica Blvd, so OBVIOUSLY that song would get stuck in my head for days. That part was less than awesome (sorry, Ms. Crowe).

Had a blast regardless of my brain’s attempted musical sabotage. We lucked into thecutest hotel, the Palihotel on Melrose. It had accordion lamps at the bedside, a cute desk with a fun metal chair and an Edison lightbulb lamp (that was impossible to capture on the iphone camera), and a patio full of succulents. It also had a fun blue velvet tufted couch that I apparently forgot to photograph, but it was like all of my favorite things in one room.
Aside from the LA toursity tapings we attended (Craig Ferguson and Wayne Brady’s Let’s Make a Deal), we got to know the neighborhood surrounding the hotel. My favorite surprise was a fun flea/antique/handmade market Sunday morning two blocks down Melrose.
There were so many things there that I loved, including this beauty that just wouldn’t fit in the overhead bin for the plane trip home.
But I did pick up a few things to bring home, including five gorgeous terrariums. Succulents, of course, because that is clearly how LA rolls.  We packed them all nice in bubble wrap, as they are glass and we were scared. Husband and I had different flights, but he was checking bags, so we decided he would bring them on board as his carry on to keep them safe.
The terrariums were pretty much glass spheres with openings on the side, hung from twine, with succulents planted in a bit of soil covered with pretty rocks and moss. The two smallest just had air plants sitting on top of colored sand with some colorful moss. Husband didn’t break a single one on the trip home, but he did turn the bag sideways to fit it under the seat in front of him. Remember I said they were spheres? Filled with dirt and sand and rocks? Know what happens to tiny things when you turn them sideways inside round things? Yep. I REALLY wish I had taken a picture of them when we bought them.
I am kind of surprised they weren’t worse:
I found them on etsy and realized that these are usually sent through the mail as build-your-own terrariums so I tried my best to put them back together again.

I hung them in the kitchen, and they make me very happy in the mornings. They look best when the sun streams through the window at about 8:15 – 8:25am. I never can work buttons that early so you’ll have to use your imagination.

And now I can’t find them again on etsy so I hope they’re ok….

Amazing Broccoli Salad to Make for People You Like

Want to watch me make broccoli salad for the fantasy football draft I am attending tomorrow night? This broccoli salad tastes best after chilling for 24 hours, so I always try to make this the day before. Hre’s how you do it, for a crowd. Make broccoli salad, I mean.
First, like all good recipes, cook some bacon. Since this bacon is to be crumbled anyway, I chop it first.
That was a 16 ounce package of bacon for those of you keeping track at home.
Next, trim the trees. Or chop the broccoli, Dana Carvey-style. Your choice.
The wine glass is there for scale (and for my enjoyment). That’s how much broccoli you need.*
Ok, next chop half of a giant red onion. Or a whole tiny red onion. Or 2/3 of a medium red onion. It looks like this.
Some people like measuring.  Beware — it might be sad.
Onions are stupid.
Now put this stuff together.
Almost a cup of Splenda. But only sprinkle some in at a time.

Half a cup of reduced fat mayo. But don’t be cray and think that’s all the mayo that’s going in this concoction. It’s two cups, a half at a time for mixing purposes. And put a bunch of the onions in. And about two capfuls of vinegar. I used apple cider but I don’t really care what kind you use. Also, add fresh ground pepper each time you add the mayo. I took that picture before I added the pepper. Pretend there is pepper in there.

Add 8 oz of cheese because cheese. Add a bunch of the crumbled bacon. You crumbled that, right?

Looking delish.

Rinse and repeat the mayo/splenda/pepper/capful of vinegar dance until you’ve done this four times total with a half cup mayo each time. And make sure the rest of the onions and bacon gets in there. (STOP EATING THE BACON. PUT IT IN THE BOWL.)

Then add another half package of cheddar because CHEESE. But just a half.

Stir, stir, stir. I usually need to separate it and stir in another bowl.

Then put it back together for that magic.

This yummy (not at all healthy) broccoli salad is my go-to ‘please bring a side’-side. If I like the people I am visting, anyway. If I don’t, I’m probably just going to buy some macaroni salad at Harris Teeter on the way to the loser’s party. And then I’ll leave early.

*I don’t possess the skills to cook for less than ten people. Since my husband and I live alone most of the year, we usually have leftovers.

**My husband who reads cookbooks for fun and reads recipes ALL THE WAY THROUGH suggested I mix the Splenda and vinegar and mayo together first, in a seperate bowl. This sounds smart. I think you should try it.

Radishes that Don’t Suck

Ok, you guys.  I love radishes now.  I hated them up until about two hours ago.

Pro tip for those that hate raw radishes and love baked potatoes.  ROAST THEM.
High heat, like 450, for 10-20 minutes.  It varies, so check them.
And you can put anything else in the pan that you like (within reason, folks).  I do not recommend whole eggs or uncooked rice or meth, among other bad ideas.
No-Recipe Recipe
Rinse the radishes and cut off all but a centimeter of the green top bits.
Cut the radishes in half lengthwise.
Chop up a friend for the radishes.  Parsnips, leeks, carrots, onions, apples (??), whatever you have and think might work.
I chopped up some of the CSA walking onions. I had never heard of those either but they were leek-y in taste but small like scallions.
These are the bits I used.
Put the veggies in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and some seasoning.  I used pink salt, fresh ground pepper, and dried thyme.
Roast in a preheated 450 oven for 10-20 minutes.  (Not pictured.  These went about 17 minutes but I like things extra done.)
The radishes were really yummy with the onions and seasoning, and very reminiscent of red potatoes.    Maybe some chives, bacon, and cheese next time for a low carb loaded potato?

Most Important Home Improvement Tool: My Phone

Facetime is awesome. Here’s proof. I bought two of these ceiling lights for the downstairs, one in the basement hallway and one above the stair landing.

I decided to be a badass and install these myself. Except for constant wishing for extra hands to sprout from my body, the first one was installed with no issues. I may have used my head to balance the light while one hand held screws and one held a screwdriver but it worked out with minimal profanity.

Things got ugly on the stair landing.


Thankfully, Dad has an iPhone. Dad to the rescue. He calmed me down and talked me through it. I ended up screwing the new fixture into the beam, after he promised me I wouldn’t electrocute myself and set the house on fire and it all worked out.

Basement Before & Not Quite After

Behold the basement back in November, emptied of furniture. (But not the heavy TV because it was too big and heavy for me to get it out. I’m pretty strong. This thing was ridiculous. I listed it on Freecycle and Craigslist and no one wanted it. I can’t blame them. I eventually had to pay Arlington County $20 to recycle it. I can recycle paint for free but must pay for heavy annoying TVs. Ok. Fair enough, GOVERNMENT.)

I knew I was pulling up the carpet because it was destroyed by the Bad Cat. I had already ripped it out in the hallway leading to this room. So I used the carpet as a drop cloth for weeks, painting the shelves in the wall unit and  the seven closet doors.  I have no saw horses or a place to store saw horses, so I used cardboard boxes. It was SO NICE not worrying about drips. I also spray painted two thrift store lamps in Rustoleum’s Key Lime, after cleaning them and giving them a rough sand. I sanded outside but painted inside because logic.

**Probably don’t spray paint in your house. Especially in a room with only one very small window.

But again, it was nice getting spray paint all over the carpet like a gangster. PROTIP: Tape plastic bags around the cord.  Stuff the bit where the lightbulb goes with paper towels and tape over that. Tape around the off/on switch. And spray everything else, lots of light coats.

I did fashion cardboard box walls to protect my freshly painted actual walls. I’m not a savage.

This was the ugly builder-grade drop ceiling.

And now this is the ceiling after installing cool new tiles that fit right under the original ones.

It cost less than $300 to do the whole room, and Ceilume was great, both product and customer-service wise. I originally called for a sample because I wanted to feel the weight difference between the cheapest ones and the more expensive ones. I expected something the size of a paint chip, but they sent me actual 2′ x 4′ tiles as a free sample — one of each. (You can see them in the ‘ugly’ version above.) I was able to install them and decide which I preferred. (I went with the cheaper version because I knew I was leaving the original foamy tiles up, but there is definitely a difference in quality.) They do have a 25 panel minimum for orders, but I only needed one of the translucent tiles where the light should shine through. I called and they sent that one along as a free sample, even though I offered to pay for it. Installation only took me a few hours, mainly because I had to cut so many of them. They look great, and completely updated the room. I cannot say enough good about this company. (They have no idea that I am typing this on the internet. I just really recommend them.)

Also, the bookcases got some paint, the window got some fabric, and here we are in April.

Still a huge mess, but coming together.