100 Word Wednesday: And then there were 4

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{ The gang in the tub getting their weekly bath }

1) Fern bought for the September tour, barely kept alive for a spring planting. A miracle it’s lasted with Ev’s constant prunings.

2) Last transplant (hehe) from Alabama.  No idea what it is or why it is rapidly losing it’s leaves after 5 years.  RIP.

3) Aloe – the only surviving succulent (sorry guys).  Happy and healthy – a success story!

4) Primrose, minus the rose.  Seasonally confused and bloomed fully in January.

50/50 for plant health.  Clearly thumb’s green enough for a garden.  Once it’s warm I’m never coming back indoors – gotta keep busy out there somehow.

20 Down, 20 to Go–a 40/40 Update

Yesterday marked the halfway point of the 40/40 Purging Challenge I mentioned here and so far, so good okay…

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I’m a little behind but considering all the issues that have recently been resolved (crafting struggles, teething trauma, related sleep deprivation), I think there’s still time for me to stage a comeback.  I keep looking to my 99% clutter free kitchen as inspiration – seriously the only thing keeping that room from a perfect declutter score is locating my glue gun to reattach the magnet on my beloved timer* – and summon more clutter busting power ups.

The main holdup right now is addressing all the paperwork that has been stashed away in the living room.  I am the absolute worst about hoarding paper and it really got out of control when I had like 10 free magazine subscriptions and was obsessively clipping articles to file away for future reference (in my defense, this was pre-Pinterst…but not by much).  During Ev’s naps I have been chip-chip-chipping away at my stash but man! if it isn’t slow-going.  Good news – I’ve pretty much got all my itemization paperwork together for taxes so we can get on that before they are delinquent :/  Seriously…when did March happen?

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{ One of many bags of declutter recycling }

Because I am very much visually motivated, I’ve been precariously stacking my purged items on our loveseat.  A trash heap is not everyone’s top design choice but I loveeeeeeeeeeeeeee seeing how much progress I’ve made.  Bonus: instead of sitting down at my laptop 5 feet away, I see that mountain and want to keep adding to it.

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As I mentioned in my original post, I actually started decluttering earlier this year so most of those boxes are packed with clothing to donate (I still have to make a second pass through our master bedroom and then I can gleefully highlight those areas on my 40/40 checklist).  Normally I would just ship everything off to the ol’ GW but our neighborhood association is organizing a mega-garage sale so I’m setting aside some of the better quality items to sell in May.  If I was really on top of it I’d start pricing things in the evenings but instead I’ve just been eating chocolate milkshakes and marathoning through Suits on Amazon Prime.  Priorities.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!  I’m planning my decluttering coup this weekend when John will be at home to otherwise occupy my “helper”.  Right now our method of take-out/put-away/take-out-again is making it hard to tell if anything is actually getting done.

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*P.S. I love my timer.  I love it so much I even wrote 875 words about it.  I will spare you the whole entry which is archived on my very first blog, but if you are in the market for the best timer ever, I highly recommend this one.  Aside from the whole magnet detaching issue, I have zero complaints.  Did I mention, I love my timer?

I came, I sewed, I eventually conquered

Alternatively titled: 21 Reasons Why I’m Not a Craft Blogger

Back when I was trying purchase the absolute minimum number of items for the uterine dweller formally known as Baby H, I stumbled across crib rail protectors and doubted their necessity.  I mean really!  Whose ill-behaved animal child would actually gnaw on a piece of furniture?  Turns out mine didn’t, not even after she sprouted 3 teeth.  Her beautiful white crib railings were pristine 10.5 months into our parenting journey and I was resting pretty heavy on those laurels.

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{ favorite room in the house, hands down! }

Until one day when I went in to retrieve her from her “quiet resting time”.  After being greeted with about 14 hi hi hi’s in various intonations, a small smudge on her crib railing caught my eye.   Then another, then another, then another, and another, and another.  Upon further inspection these smudges were tiny little teeth marks that had scraped away the white paint to reveal the natural wood below.  My detective skills deduced that either a very small and very industrious chipmunk was secretly bunking with Ev or my perfect, non-furniture gnawing daughter had found a new post-nap pastime.  Hmmmmmm…

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As a temporary fix, I put two layer’s of painter’s tape on the railing and set my sights on buying crib rail protectors ASAP.  The only problem was all my options sucked.  And seriously so.  These flexible adhesive ones would have cost me $25+ and would have been too short.  These rigid plastic ones would have cost me $33+ and been too long.  Plus both were plastic and despite their non-toxic claims, didn’t seem worth the risk considering how crappy their reviews were on Amazon.  This fabric set was semi-promising but at $46.99 it would have been too short in the front, too long on the sides, and would have left the back side completely exposed to eager chipmunk chompers (not to mention that the sides of her crib are solid so there would have been loose ties dangling about).

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So what do you do when you have custom measurements and don’t want to spend a fortune?  You make it yourself.  And what do you do when both your sewing machine and your limited sewing knowledge were acquired when you were 10 years old and haven’t really been maintained since (reason #1 you aren’t a craft blogger)?  To quote Mr. Gunn, you make it work.

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{ all damage done with 3 teeth and a lot of determination* }

Considering that the tape barrier was doing little to protect the rails, I knew I had to move fast.  I briefly considered this no-sew method but after Google Imaging fabric crib rail guards, I discovered that I really liked the more tailored look of a taller cover like this one.  Taking my inspiration from this tutorial, I decided to make a decorative fabric/quilted fabric sandwich that would tie to the rails.  Spoiler alert: this isn’t quite where I ended up.  But because this post is decidedly NOT a tutorial (reason #2), I wanted to credit my starting point.

Extremely precise measurements and coupon in hand, I ran over to JoAnn’s to gather my supplies: a simple, predominantly white patterned fabric (for the top), quilted fabric (for the padding), and ribbon/trim (to tie it to the crib).  As soon as I got there and realized that our local store was having a store-to-be-moving-soon “sale” and was therefore sold out of quilted fabric and not accepting coupons, I had to tweak my original plan a bit.

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Eventually I landed on this basic lilac polka dot pattern for the top, cotton batting for the center, bleached muslin (already owned) for the back, and 1” white cotton webbing for the ties (to match the existing ties on our Moses basket).  I spent entirely too long figuring out how much fabric to purchase (reason #4) and was entirely too trusting of the clerks who assured me Hobby Lobby would have additional cotton webbing (reason #5).  But by the end of my Friday afternoon shopping trip I had most of my supplies, a clear plan in mind, and a completion goal of Sunday (unrealistic project timeline = reason #6).

Knowing that my yardage was limited, I carefully diagramed every cut, meticulously measured (and remeasured) one hundred times, took a deep breath and began making my cuts.  I started on the side railing covers first because that area of the crib was receiving the brunt of Ev’s teeth and I was pretty darn proud of myself when I pinned together and ironed two rectangular sandwiches of fabric/batting/backing (#7: counting my chickens before they hatch).

Feeling confident, I set out to measure my front and back pieces only to discover that (reason #8) somewhere in my measurements I oriented the patterned fabric incorrectly and had shorted myself an unforgivable 4 inches.  Head in hands I exclaimed over and over, “I can’t believe I did that!” and decided to call it quits for the weekend.  In a sad attempt to protect the crib railings further, I ramped up my padding efforts by adding some baby blankets to the mix:

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I debated going back and getting more fabric but I was determined to make it work with what I had (also, I was still miffed at Joann’s for forcing me to pay store closing “sale” prices instead of allowing me to use the 40% coupon they mailed to my house in the store closing advertisement…confusing much?  I grumpily digress.  Also, harboring strange grudges against craft stores = reason #10).  I drafted a new cutting diagram that would allow me to piece together coverings for the back and front rails with a little decorative feature to cover the seam (#11: digging that craft hole even deeper).

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Things were getting desperate as Ev spent the close of every naptime session breaking down my blanket barriers.  I swore that come hell or high water the guard railings would be completed that weekend and that not even a teething baby who was cutting out naptime would stop me (more unrealistic deadlines…#12).

My decades rusty sewing skills and I needed a Christmas miracle (#13: praying for success).  The Sunday before last I chained myself to my sewing machine (precariously balanced on top of my ironing board…#14) and I set to work.  Logistically I just had to sew four straight lines, four separate times (a skill I actually possess) but I still had some setbacks.  All of my corner ties were too short (trying to make it work with insufficient materials #15) and the first set of ties ripped off almost immediately (because I foolishly didn’t reinforce my stitching #16).  On the first panel I literally cut corners instead of properly mitering them (#17) and on the second panel it took me about twenty attempts to follow this tutorial in order to achieve mitering success (the causal way…#18).  I didn’t have enough material for ties on the front and back panels so I used adhesive hook and loop tape (that’s all that was available) and against my better judgment (#19), I didn’t stitch them down or wait 24 hours before unlooping them (so now two of the 10 faux-velcro sets have fallen off and I have to stich them on after all).  Also, I took ZERO pictures of the entire process (#20).

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But for not being a craft blogger and for whipping out skills that haven’t been used in practical application since that one time I sewed pajama pants with my grandmother in the back of a grocery store meeting room I’m calling this a total success.  From far away they look great; up close they look…surprisingly good.  I learned some new tricks and I bolstered my sewing confidence (or at least my false sewing bravado) enough to tackle some light filtering window treatments…to be featured in the year 2045.  Best of all, they work – they really work!  And instead of gnawing on the crib my little chipmunk has been busying her naps with guard rail removal attempts (which I hear going on now so I better wrap this up!).

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{ All in 2 weeks work…#21 }

P.S.  After reapplying tape layer after tape layer to protect the crib rails while I struggled to complete the simplest sewing project known to any skilled craftsperson, John concluded that Ev really is her mother’s daughter.  His reasoning: “[When] she realized she could get even a little [tape] off, she NEEDED to get all of it off, and was determined to do so no matter how long it took.  Because just like you she does super tedious stuff into completion…regardless of how long it takes.  It’s like your greatest joy.”  Truer words.

P.P.S. First entry in the newly established DIY category (bonus reason #22)

40 in 40 for the 3rd Time

Spring! – without a doubt my favorite season.  Open windows, fresh air, long walks, green grass, bare feet, everything blooming, dining al fresco.  The time of year that always inspires me to clean and organize and improve my home.

I am ready for blue skies and sunshine and frolicking about whilst singing like the lovely lark I think I am.  We are going insane over here.  My child is literally gnawing on the furniture in savage attempt to escape the winter doldrums.  And I am seriously considering joining her.  Just as soon as I am done complaining about the longest winter known to (this) (wo)man*.

Whine whine whine whine whine whine whine.

I got this crazy idea in my head that I could speed up winter’s end by starting to spring clean my home.  In news not at all related to the earth’s rotational axis, temps have been slowly creeping upward (in fact, over the course of the four days it took me to write a coherent post we’ve experienced two days of pleasant weather and lots of snow melt!).  Sure it’s not definitive proof that my strategy is working but I’m deluded just enough to enjoy the placebo effect of my tidying efforts.

And in keeping up with my blogging style of posting-after-the-fact, it’s my third year participating in Sarah’s annual 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge!  The timing couldn’t be more perfect as I was already manically scrubbing and tossing and sweeping and dusting and purging everything anyway.  I’ve been temporarily sidetracked by a sewing project (related to furniture chewing, in case you were wondering) but I have high hopes of making a major thrift store donation run mid-April.  If you want to help bring Spring 2014 to your neck of the woods, White House Black Shutters has a ton of 40/40 resources to get you started.

Happy Friday weekend Monday!

* P.S. Okay, for real on my computer (wo) autocorrects to a tiny briefcase emoticon Work.  Because that is necessary.