Sunday, December 3, 2017

New House Problems

I wanted to post something since it is now December, and I see that I haven't posted anything since July. We moved to a new home in March and, as a result, have been very busy... First of all, we didn't move well. In fact, we did pretty much everything in the worse way possible.




We didn't pack everything in boxes, for one. We hired movers to move our "large items" only, thinking we would be fine moving everything else. The price was hourly, minimum 4 hours. They moved everything into the truck in under 1, and we scrambled to find other things they could stuff into the truck after realizing how stupid we were. The end result was countless hours and dozens of trips back and forth moving car loads of items at a time. The only thing that saved our sanity in the end was the fact that our old house was only a 10 minute drive from the new. My husband and his parents did most of it because I was still going to work every night during the first half of our move. That was another mistake considering the fact that most of the items were not boxed by any sort of category.

Everything was shoved into the garage, basement, or dining room. Kitchen items were buried in unlabeled boxes. The shower curtains and bed sheets I had laid out specifically for the guest bedroom and bathroom were MIA. My husband and in-laws had to make a special trip to Target later that night for various necessities. This all happened while I was working night shift. I was unable to take off that first night, but the next day, I extended my requested time off to an entire week (I really needed an entire month).



Remember, this was all happening in March. There was no possible way to get our cars into the garage, and sooner rather than later, it was going to storm. In the Midwest, storms mean hail and damaging winds -- not necessarily a tornado, but that had happened not 50 miles northwest of us the week before.

So, we had to prioritize getting our cars into the garage. That meant everything became even more compressed together than it already was. More stacking. I didn't find all my kitchen supplies for over a month. We ate so much fast food I wanted to vomit.

Every muscle in our bodies was sore. Our hands were covered in cuts and blisters.

During all of this, we ran into a number of problems that just added to our misery.

The problems with the house itself began before we even started the move. In fact, it started on closing day, the first time we entered as the homeowners. Needless to say, we were both very excited to have a new house -- still oblivious to the back breaking labor that was soon to follow. We were running around making plans of what rooms should be used for what and where the larger items we own should be placed (our pinball machine, for example) when I noticed a strange bundle of fur hanging from one of the stairs.

Yes, that's a bat.


What do you do whenever you find a bat in your home? I personally wouldn't kill the poor thing, but just so you know, it's actually illegal. Bats are endangered. They also carry a variety of nasty diseases.

We went to Home Depot and bought a pair of leather gloves (because we had no idea where ours were at the time). We needed leather because bats can bite through other kinds of gloves. We then threw a towel over the thing, scooped it up, and deposited it outside.

...
...

Yeah right. It sooo did not go down like that.

There is a video of the bat flying back and forth, me screaming and ducking for cover, and my husband running around trying to capture it in a towel any time it landed. We did eventually get it out, but it was quite the ordeal.

You may be wondering how it got into the house in the first place. Honestly, we didn't have much time to ponder theories. We were preoccupied with the chaos of the move. We had to figure out a way to get our cars into the garage. Besides, it wasn't long after that we realized the garage door mechanism was faulty, and we needed to call a repair technician. That was our first clue that the beautiful home we had just purchased had a questionable past. The garage door opener was literally falling off the ceiling, and under the plastic cover, it looked like the thing had caught fire once upon a time... We did eventually get it repaired and our cars safely in the garage. None too soon as it hailed the following week.

The beginning of water problems...

I am seriously considering not hiring a home inspector next time we move. It cost us $500, and we ended up spending that in repairs he missed anyway.

After the garage door was the washing machine hook-ups. There were no faucet handles. Thus, the inspector didn't test the water. It wasn't until we attempted to hook up our laundry that we discovered the valves were broken. (Which is probably why they took the faucet handles off.)

NO WORRIES! We have a home warranty through A. B. May!

WRONG!

If they can get out of helping you, they certainly will. In this case, the broken valves weren't covered because they were broken before and not a newly broken item. The warranty doesn't cover existing problems, just new ones.

Ok, you're thinking, why not just say it broke whenever we turned it on? Very true. It wasn't a preexisting thing then. However, the main problem with A. B. May is that you must use their technicians, and they will charge you much more than something actually costs to fix.

For example, this repair job, they said, would cost $800, and our deductible was $500. So, home warranty or no, it was going to cost $300 to get a working washing machine.

We ended up saying to hell with them and calling around for quotes. This was very stressful considering it was all happening in the middle of moving in, but in the end, we were able to get the valves repaired for only $200.

Next, The Bats Return

It wasn't long after we moved in that my husband discovered the source of our bat -- the attic. He was running cables and found what looked like mouse poop all over the insulation in the attic. Upon further investigation, however, he found more flying rodents instead.

You see why I don't want to hire a home inspector again? Our inspector went into the attic and found what he called "bird poop". This led to the discovery of a hole in the roof that we requested be repaired prior to our purchasing of the home.

Now, bird poop looks nothing like bat poop. Bats are also not birds.

This in addition to the washing machine hook-ups is why I requested a refund for our inspection. The contract said we could request a refund within 60 days. It hadn't even been 10 days.

We never got a refund.

A Variety of Water Problems



It's not so much that we are downhill as it is our grading around the house is terrible.

Someone is actually going to be fixing this next week finally (9 months later). On a positive note, the basement held up very well despite all the water pooling up around the house during this exceptionally rainy year.

It only flooded once.

We want to eventually finish the basement, but the grading needs fixed first. Our basement has a sump pump, but it couldn't keep up.

Side Note: We refinished the deck, and that is why all that stuff is sitting on the ground in that first photo. Looks pretty trashy, I know. The deck looks really nice now though, but again, that wasn't accomplished without considerable challenge. The previous owners had used multiple coats of multiple different stains, and after attempting to strip the deck twice, we ended up sanding each board clean.


One nice thing about our house is that there is an in-ground sprinkler system. Unfortunately, the pipes were not drained last year and we had to call someone to come out and fix the leaking pipe in the basement and the burst pipe in the yard that actually dug itself up with the pressure of the water blasting out.

And it wasn't only below ground that was a problem.

Despite fixing that hole in the roof, we still sprung a leak. Whoever did the "new" roof was an idiot.

Two pipes on the roof were missing rings that prevent water from passing through into the attic. As a result, we now have a lovely hole in our ceiling above the tub in the guest bathroom.

I guess we are lucky that it happened over the tub because it took quite a while to get someone to come out and find/fix the problem.

All the water related problems have been repaired (except the grading around the house, which will be done next week). They all stemmed from negligence and neglect.

The people we bought the house from never lived here. They bought it as a foreclosure and fixed it up for selling, taking shortcuts along the way -- like spray painting a couple of our master bathroom fixtures to look like oil rubbed bronze. Almost all the fixtures in the house are oil rubbed bronze, but it's like they ran out of money whenever they got to our master bathroom. The shower faucet and drain were spray painted and started to peel after we began using the shower.

The people that owned the house prior to that were terrible. According to our neighbors (which are excellent, by the way), the previous owners had to foreclose after the son got into drugs and the father into alcohol. I imagine the house must have been pretty trashed too considering that every single room has been repainted, all the counters redone, and all the hardware/lights/doors replaced.

The back yard was so grown up that the people behind us couldn't even see the house at one point (not that I would have necessarily minded that; I feel like we need more trees myself). The buyers of the foreclosure mowed down the overgrowth and cut down a number of trees for whatever reason. Perhaps they were dead, but the main problem is they didn't remove the stumps or any of the excess brush. We had to take care of that.


Future Problems

All in all, we have accomplished quite a bit this year. We overcame a variety of problems and made this house our home. There is still a lot to be done, but it doesn't feel so overwhelming now.

Now, it just feels a bit cold.

We used a thermal camera to check the insulation and discovered a number of spots where the insulation is missing. The house doesn't feel terribly cold, and the utilities aren't terribly high considering it is a two story, but there does appear to be problems. We have made this one of our projects for next year, and honestly, the attic insulation is covered in bat poop anyway. :)





Saturday, July 22, 2017

DinoRAWR Terrarium



I've wanted a terrarium for a long time. Today, I finally took the time (<5 minutes) to make one.

I used fish tank rocks leftover from my husband's aquarium and bought the succulents at Michael's when they were 50% off. The dinosaur is from a previous years birthday cake. The glass container was something my mother had and was in the process of getting rid of, but I rescued it just in time.

Supplies:

  • assorted rocks (small, medium, large)
  • small rocks of a solid color
  • faux moss
  • faux succulents
  • specialty items (coral, shells, plastic dinosaur or other animal)
  • glass container

Note: Save money by purchasing small rocks meant for fish tanks instead of the expensive stuff you see at Michael's.


Instructions:

1. Layer the smaller rocks and moss.

2. Trim the stems on your succulents and press them gently into the top most rock layer.

3. Top with the larger rocks and specialty items.


Note: The wooden tray above was a find from Michael's. It was in the summer clearance for 75% off; plus, I had a coupon for 25% off total purchase, including sales items. Original price was $25, but I took it home for less than $5! Woo!


Faux Beetle Display



Like most of the crafty population, I browse Pinterest a lot. Since we moved, I've been collecting ideas for decorating our dining room / game room. It's interesting that, what initially triggers an idea is sometimes not even related. I found a picture of a dining room with botanical sketches on the walls; just a small cluster, but that was the one element I liked and wanted to replicate. I like nature elements in my decorating (rock collections, mineral displays, agate coasters).

Thrifted Botanical Art

So, I decided to go to the thrift store and find some botanical artwork to frame. Turns out, the pictures I liked were from a really, really old book about "Common Garden Pests" for $1. I also found a shadowbox frame for $7, but it was 30% off all household items that day. So, only $5! Woo!

Framed Botanical/Bug Prints: $1 art + $6/6 Ikea frames = $7 Total!

Faux Beetle Display: $5 frame + $5 plastic bugs = $10 Total!



Faux Beetle Display Tutorial:

1. Decide where your bugs are going and identify them as best you can.

2. Print out the names, cut them out, and paste to black paper using a glue stick. Cut them out again leaving a black border.
3. Use the back of your frame to measure out a white sheet of poster paper to use as a background.
4. Put the frame back together, minus the glass, and use it as a guide as to where items should be placed. This is important because you may place items too close to the edge otherwise.
5. Place items, and make sure you know exactly where you want things to go.

6. Use the glue stick to attach the labels and a glue gun to attach your bugs. Note: a very small amount of glue can be used to position limbs if they aren't laying right.

7. Replace the glass and hang your new artwork!



Sunday, July 16, 2017

New Kimono for Vacation



I made another kimono just in time for my beach vacation next month! These make perfect cover-ups. I am going to use the leftover fabric to make a removable strap. I used the same tutorial that I used for my other kimono.

I'm glad I linked that tutorial on my blog because there are so many different tutorials out there now; I couldn't find it anymore by just googling, and it is the best!

Silky Black Camisole with Lace



Here is an alteration of the original Silky Black Camisole. Lace border was added and the back is flat without the V plunge (Image 1).

Image 1
This was simple to do. The lace can be added to an existing camisole without needing to deconstruct it at all. It is sewn to the front edge. The only semi-difficult part is getting the turns lined up with the pattern of the camisole.

Image 2
The flat back is a small alteration of the pattern. You don't even have to make a new pattern piece. Just draw a straight line from the tip of your existing pattern to the fold of the fabric (Image 2).
Adding the lace took a little longer for me to do than was necessary because I harvested my lace from a failed bra project, and it took a long time to deconstruct. Once you have your lace, however, it is pretty straight forward.

Step 1: Make the same width by lining up your ruler with the top most part of your lace and cutting off anything below the ruler (Image 3).

Image 3

Step 2: Cut lace to the same length of the edges you want to add it to (Image 4).


Image 4

Step 3: Sew lace edges together by laying pieces on top of each other and sewing at a bisecting angle through the tip of the point (Image 5).

Image 5

Step 4: Sew lace to the front of your camisole using a straight or zig-zag stich (your preference; I used a straight stitch), and trim as necessary. Use a zig-zag stitch to attach the lace to your straps.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Faux Fur Vest Tutorial


Love this look! It's spring time now, but I made a faux fur vest in December before the moving fiasco and didn't get a chance to post about it.



Links: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3

I bought my faux fur from Joann's for 40% off. It is $30-$40/yard normally; so, I highly recommend bringing a coupon! Even with the coupon, this project wasn't exactly cheap (I paid ~$20 for my fur; plus, ~$10 for the lining and thread), but neither is buying a pre-made vest from the store. It is also a slow process. If you want good results, you will need to hand baste every seam before sewing with a machine. This is because fur is slippery and can move around easily while you're trying to sew (it's very difficult to pin down), and you can push the fur out of the way of the stitches so that your seams are fluffy and not matted down.

For this project, you will need:

  • Basic Bodice Block!
  • Basic Dart Manipulation Instructions!
  • 1-1.5 yards of faux fur
  • 1-1.5 yards lining fabric (I used black silk)
  • The Basics: thread, needle, marking chalk, ruler, scissors, etc.
  • A razor blade (Note: never cut fur with scissors; you will make a huge mess!)


Drafting Your Pattern: (Note: You will only be using the back part of your Basic Bodice Block)
  1. Remove the darts from your "Basic Bodice Block: Back" by following the instructions in my Dart Manipulation post under "Combine Two Darts into One". Remove both the shoulder and waist dart.
  2. Drop the bottom of the arm hole by 2 inches, and redraw arm hole curve.
  3. Add length to the bottom. (I added 8 inches, but this is totally up to you.)
  4. Trace around your pattern, flip on the fold, and trace again to get rid of the fold line. You now have your "Vest: Back, no seam allowance, Cut 1" pattern piece.
  5. To get the front pattern piece, use the same pattern piece you just used to make the back (the one with the fold line). Find your bust line on the fold line side and connect that point to the beginning edge of your neckline. This will give your vest a V opening in front. If you want more curvature, go ahead and add some. This is your vest design!
  6. Next, find your waist line on the fold line side of your pattern. Find the halfway mark between your waist line and the bottom of the pattern and cut a curve from this point to the bottom edge of the opposite side of your pattern. (See image below.)
  7. You should now have your "Vest: Front, no seam allowance, Cut 2, flipping in between" pattern piece.

Steps 5 and 6

Making Your Vest:

  1. Keep in mind the direction of your fur. You want it to flow in the same direction on all your pieces.
  2. With this in mind, lay our your pattern pieces on the back of the fur and trace. *Don't forget to flip your "Vest: Front" so you end up with a left and right side!
  3. Add 1/2" seam allowance to all pieces.
  4. Using a razor blade, cut out the pattern pieces.
  5. Trace your pattern onto your lining fabric, add seam allowance, and cut these pieces out. Scissors are fine. :)
  6. Hand baste your two front fur pieces to your back piece at the shoulders. Right sides together.
  7. Sew over your basting stitch.
  8. Sew your lining pieces together at the shoulders as well; you don't need to baste first unless you want to.
  9. Hand Baste the lining to the fur (right sides together) at the arm openings, around the front edges of the front pieces, and neckline. (Don't sew anything below the arm openings or the back half of your front pieces yet. These will be sewn together at the side seams in a bit.)
  10. Use your sewing machine to go over all your basting stitches.
  11. Invert!
  12. Baste your side seams and sew over them. These should be the only visible seams on the inside of your vest.
  13. Fold under your lining at the bottom of your vest and baste/stitch this into place.
  14. Done!



Enjoy!


Friday, December 2, 2016

DIY Agate Coasters

You may have noticed from my choice of decor (here and here) that I love rocks, and whenever I saw the Agate Coasters that have been trending recently, I just had to have some!

This would also make a great Christmas gift!

Just remember that they are on the pricey side. They range from anywhere between $25-$50 for a set of 4. That's $6.25-$12.50 per coaster. I got mine for $4.45/each in an assortment of colors.


Materials:
  • Agate Slices (I got mine from Science Surplus)
  • Gold Paint (I used DecoArt Dazzling Metallics in Glorious Gold)
  • Sponge and/or Paintbrush
  • Stick-on Felt Pads

How To:

 Decide if you want the sponge look or the paintbrush look.



I ended up choosing the sponge look because I liked how the feathered edge glittered in the light.

For Paintbrush: just paint the edges (If you get some on the face of the rock, just use your nail or a blade to scrape it off!)

For Sponge: sponge the edges with moderate pressure so that the sponge molds around the rock and leaves a feathered edge (You will still need the paintbrush to get into the small cracks on the side.)

Allow the edges to dry. I used thread spools to elevate my stones.


Apply stick-on felt pads (if desired). Use 4 per stone to keep them from rocking under your drink glasses!


All done! So lovely!


Here they are on my side table with my thrifted gold leaf.