Scenes from the farm/weekend

The start of a new month always brings another military weekend.  We headed to the farm so Mister could work and I could fill my days with randomness.  I checked in on the actual MILKSHED that named Milkshed, excited to document the progress, but winter decided that this was the weeked it’d finally arrive and I (stupidly) only brought moccasins since I’m now used to 50° days, so I was restricted from much tramping around.

So far the junk inside has been cleared out and the roof removed, the bones of a new structure already in place.  The doors are falling off and we want the shed to be insulated and weather tight, so we’re currently planning to replace them with french doors.  That rusted beauty of a door on the right holds onto my heart something fierce though, so I’ve asked – nay, insisted. repeatedly – that it’s rescued from the junk heap.  I’ll turn it into a table top or magnet bulletin board later on down the road.  That glorious piece of metal rustiness from the roof (ventilation related, surely) was already tossed into the junk pile when I arrived and I decided on the spot that we needed to rescue it in the hopes of building a chandelier later on.

My mom sort of gets the inspiration, I think, because she called me earlier in the week to clarify yes, I do want to keep the exposed beams inside.  Since we’re making the shed weather-tight, unfortunately we’ll loose the gorgeous decay on the cinder blocks inside in favor of drywall & insulation, but its a price I’m willing to pay since this little shed will eventually hold papers and inks and dyed yarns and all matter of amazingness that we need to keep safe and dry.  Guys, I have to forcibly stop myself from day dreaming about shed-related projects on a nearly daily basis.  I have visions of stenciled floors and window shop for rugs on Etsy like.. hourly…

I ran around to some local antique shops with my Mom on Saturday and brought home a few small things. I’ve been online shopping for a new dining room light for weeks now and all but purchased one from Barnlight Electric, then found this guy above at our last stop. Most of the stores had it’s vintage pricing, not old shit pricing, so we cruised past countless things we would have loved to bring home.  This guy though – $40 and marked 20% off making him only $32 and easily my happiest find of the day.

Since I own a letterpress and have every intention of someday using that letterpress, it really saddens me to see the old type chests parted out and turned into jewelry storage on Etsy.  It’s not that they aren’t cute or functional (yes to both), but I actually want to buy a full chest and it seems they’ve all be snatched up and taken apart. Sigh.  But then I became one of those people I dislike when I found this awesome gray drawer for $20, 20% off again, making him just $16 and so he came home with us and I’m a hypocrite; judge me.

Sunday was spent finishing up a project for an upcoming guest post on another blog (it’s exciting! I can’t wait to share with you) and generally wasting time until Mister came home.  I put together a few knitting swatches and snapped some photos so I can get Toolshed Part 3 posted soon; no, I haven’t abandoned my little tutorial series!  Now that we’re home I’ve already started online browsing for fabric covered wire to get the gas station light rewired, so hopefully I can get some details up soon for that as well… lots of projects in the pipeline and it has me excited.

Window shopping: rug edition

Guys, I’m obsessed with rugs.  I think it’s this sick fascination because really, we just shouldn’t have them.  We’ve ruined so many rugs in this household already.

current living room, current rug

I love the rug under our coffee table right now, but it’s a bit small which means the pups spend all day immediately under our feet so we’re always accidentally kicking them or chasing them away when we’re eating dinner (which we totally never do in front of the TV, no). Plus, I want to get a more layered look in the space since its leaning distinctly girly and while Mister doesn’t care, I do.  I often think an indoor/outdoor rug is the way to go in the hopes of withstanding the dogs better, but I never seem to be able to pull the plug on one.

So I rug shop. Daily. Multiple times daily on the particularly bad days.

1. Indo Hand-knotted Kiliim Ivory and Green Wool rug in 4×6 ($149.99) – Crazy, right? But I love it. So much. Unfortunately, this is one where color match really matters and it looks different on every computer screen so far.  If it’s muted, I’m totally in. But I’m afraid it’ll be garish. Regardless, I think Mister would roll his eyes upon its arrival.

2. Hand-woven Arrah-109 Dhurry in either 4x6 ($77.99) or 5×8 (131.99) – I’m like *this* close to just getting it. My only hesitation? It’s described as gray but appears ivory sooo.. what would really arrive?

3. Dash & Albert Birmingham Black Woven Cotton in 4×6 ($109) or 6×9 (huge! $208) – I’ve been online shopping Dash and Albert rugs for yeeeeeeeears.  Long before this current search started.  Even if I don’t jump on a living room rug, I’d love to have a runner going up our currently unfinished (now that’s a story to share) stairs. I really love some of their more colorful options but think this lends itself to my living room vision more.

4. Dash & Albert Beckham Stripe Platinum Indoor/Outdoor (no price yet) – Bah, this one isn’t yet available but it just may be the perfect compromise.

Updated printer storage

In my original office post, I called out the cables/office-y stuff as a primary issue with the space.  Our printer is massive and can’t live on my desk, so it takes up residence on an odd c-shaped IKEA cart that, thinking back, I must have bought in 2002 after my freshman year of college.  Our local IKEA hadn’t yet been built so we pilgrimaged to a store in Pennsylvania where I bought EVERYTHING IN SIGHT because OMG THEY ONLY HAVE IKEA IN LIKE EUROPE.

This little thing has lived in five homes now and I hate it.  But it fits the printer perfectly and if we’re aiming to keep this update at $free, I decided to work with what’s available. At nearly a decade old, I figured any update was better than nothing.

Mister (ever so gently) attacked the surface with our brand new Skil Octo sander.  I’ve been told that you don’t *really* have to sand these types of surfaces but I’m new to the spray painting game and he was anxious to use tools, so we went for it.

hey pretty lady

During our big Lowe’s trip we grabbed two cans of Rustoleum Universal spray paint in Matte Black.  I originally wanted gloss, but the surface was so lousy we were smart to grab matte. Post sanding I wiped down the surface, grabbed the only large piece of cardboard I could find, and got to work.

If I’ve learned anything from blogs over the years, the mantra with spray paint is always keep your arm moving, spray from ~10″ away, many very light coats is better than heavy ones.  And. Yeah. It didn’t work so well.  Pictures would tell you otherwise, though, so either everyone is exaggerating their awesome spray paint abilities or I need more practice.  Also, with the many shelves and compartments and weird angles, by the fourth coat I was in screw it, I just want coverage mode. Either way, this project is a big lesson in good enough!

Work has been kicking my butt lately with super late nights so this guy has been stinking up the garage with all its fumes n’ junk.  I headed in to work early today to get my huge project underway so I was home early enough to actually get some day light! To take pictures! Ish!

In the end, this is a whole lot of words for a solid “ehhh” project.  The cart is back in place, doin’ its thing, holdin’ that printer like a CHAMP. The greatest joy is all the crap and papers and extra cords that I removed from its depths, never to return.

Perhaps the most riveting part of this project is our one casualty – my pearl ring.

I stupidly didn’t wear gloves or remove the ring for the first coat and the little guy didn’t fare well. I’ve worn this ring pretty much every day since my 18th birthday and miss it desperately.  Pearls are delicate, so I fear anything that can remove spray paint will also ruin the pearl.  Anyone have suggestions? Please!

On a happier note, I started my knit lamp project last night and I think its awwwwwwesome.  My instagram has a spoiler of the amazing grandmaness and I cannot wait to finish and get everything assembled.

$0 office makeover; part 1

Calling this a zero dollar makeover is both misleading and unfair, but it IS true. Mister and I spent the weekend making my office dreams a reality, which means I did a lot of talking and he did a lot of doing but, really, I did my fair share of doing in addition to the talking which probably just means I’m an excellent multi-tasker.  And also, lessons learned, we are not meant to be DIYers because home improvement makes me mean.

The storm before the calm photos showed phase 1 – The Getting Rid of All The Stuff, primarily books and paperwork.  Luckily, my daytime workplace has a book drive going on right now so I’m charitably taking advantage of the situation and have a great way to quickly get rid of all my like new and (in many cases) brand new books. In the process I learned the very important lesson of not taking book recommendations from people who are nothing like you/you don’t even really like.  I tossed a few series of books where I bought the first two or three under the assurance that they were just so great (!!), only to find them quite terrible.  It’s not smart to trust book advice from someone if you don’t even have much in common. During the cut I was more ruthless than expected, and tossed quite a few stacks of books – mostly duplicates, things I will literally never read, and scholarly type books from college that won’t be touched again.

So amidst this paperwork book disaster, shredding like a madwoman, I found a silver lining in the form of $75 in old American Express Gift Cheques, and a $50 bill right alongside them.  I don’t even know how to explain the joy.  I like to think that my past self was thinking out for my future self and stashed these away as an awesome future free money present OR… I was just woefully financially irresponsible prior to the age of 25 or so.  Either way, we were looking at $125 in free money! Clearly this makeover was meant to happen.

To cross a few more things off the list, I learned that the table lamp works great, it just needed a new light bulb. The floor lamp works fine as well, but it was an IKEA impulse buy out of necessity and I’ve never really loved it.  With the new shelf plan, there’s no room for it regardless, so it’ll get tucked away in the guest room for future use.  I have a knitting related project in mind for the table lamp.  Kntting + lamps?  Yeah, our cool knows no bounds.

Before heading out, I grabbed the other two great windfalls in this project  – $75 in Lowe’s gift cards and $100 christmas gift from my grandmother.  My debit card rewards were phased out last year, so in a moment of rare genius, I cashed out all my points on the gift cards in hopes of future projects.  As for the Lowe’s vs. Home Depot debate, Lowe’s offers 10% off for Military members, so I just drag Mister along for all our projects. Which he adores, of course.

So the shelves.  I knew I wanted raw(ish) wood, nothing painted.  I briefly considered just getting some huge shelves from IKEA, but the common element among all my Pinterest pins was exposed brackets.  Here’s the point where I want to talk about the project over and over and over.  White brackets or black? Or wait they come in gray too? Should we get gray and paint them black?  But then glossy or matte? Or like… satin?  And here’s the point where I rejoice (yet again) that Mister is around.  He gave me a “I think gray works” and ya know what, it totally works. It  more than works, actually.  My desk is stainless steel and the legs are sort of gray and they just totally make sense now that they’re in the space and we really couldn’t have made a better choice despite my over analyzing and Mister just picking.  It’s teamwork, I tell ya.  For the wood, I decided on plywood early on pretty much based entirely on cost and also a little part on looks.  During my early stalking I found oak plywood for ~$45 and knew we’d get three shelves out of it.  Then, total fate, I was wandering around Bryn Alexandra and found a post on her Laundry room details with… oak plywood.  Done and done.

Lowe’s did an awesome job cutting the boards to 89″ x 12″, resulting in 4 perfect shelves.  Since our ceiling slants, we could (and originally planned to) only use 3 shelves, so now I’m daydreaming about uses for the last board.  We rounded out the trip with more brackets than we could possibly need, screws and anchors (since our studs are notoriously difficult to find), danish oil, spray paint for another office project, new stud finder, and, the pièce de résistance, a new Skil Octo Multi-Finishing Sander.  At the last second we grabbed some oak iron on edging since Mister wasn’t convinced that the raw edges were the way to go (again, correct).  Since we’d spent a bit of cash at Staples earlier in the day, we had exactly $175 with us – the $75 in gift cards and a crisp new $100.  The bill was right around $200 (even with the sander & stud finder!) and with Mister’s military discount we paid a tiny $5.97 out of pocket for everything.

From here the explanation is far easier than the reality of laying out a proper grid work on the wall.  In short – measure, measure, measure, use your stud finder that doesn’t ever find studs, measure, measure, measure, drill holes, attach brackets.

Meanwhile, I continually ran in the house to warm up then back outside to work on the boards and our other project.

I ended up doing two coats of danish oil on every “good” side and one coat on some of the hidden sides (tops of the upper two boards).  I would have preferred two coats on all sides, but the can didn’t cover nearly as much square footage as we’d hoped.  If you’re going to do a similar project, grab the second one just in case.  This stuff is insanely easy to use – pour it on, quickly rub it around (I went with the grain, not because I knew I should but because I’m OCD).  The bottle indicates that you should rub off any excess, but I didn’t have any even after two coats.  I still gave them a quick final rub down before bringing them inside.  The finish is fantastic and I’m absolutely thrilled.  So far, the only drawback is the fumes that are still lingering as I type this.  If you see a typo, blame danish oil for making me brain-dead.  Logic dictates that we should have left the boards outside longer, but dark was coming and we live in Michigan.. and it’s winter.  So you work with what you have.

Since it was dark when we finished and I worked late today, I’ve yet to get a great picture of the shelves, but once the rest of the room is finished, I’ll take plenty of glamour shots.  For now, check ’em out.

So the price breakdown so far, despite really being free:

3/4″ oak plywood board – $44.97
Toggler 20 pack (x2) – $7.13 each
Natural danish oil – $7.98
Studsensor – $19.48
8″ x 10″ gray shelf bracket (bought 15, ended up using 9) – $1.28 each
Octo Multi Finish Sander – $39.97
Octo sandpaper kit – $9.97
3/4″ x 25′ Oak edging – $6.47
Orange Gatorade (me) – $1.59
Amp Energy Drink (him) – $1.99

These are all pre-discount costs, so we got to take another 10% off.

Nearly $70 of that was investment in tools (sander, stud finder, sand paper kit).  We could have easily cut out one packet of the toggles, but were annoyed by the screw aisle and just wanted to move on.  The board became 4 shelves and we only used 3.  We also decided that 5 brackets per shelf was total overkill.  Each bracket is rated to hold 85lbs and they have 3 screws each, all screws either went directly into studs or we used toggles rated for 143lbs each.  In short, these guys aren’t going anywhere soon.  So I got 3 approx 7 1/2 foot wall-to-wall shelves for ~$70, which was really FREE.

The other office main office project is holed up in our garage until I get a chance to pounce on it again.  Our weekend also involved a trip to The Tile Shop where we officially became the least liked customers ever when we bought.. two.. tiles..  I think they almost laughed while we were checking out.

Anyone else tackling home projects?


The Office

Now that Milkshed happenings are going on, I’m feeling overwhelmed by the lack of structure and organization in my office space.  I’ve spent some free time obsessing over shelves on Pinterest and it officially transitioned from daydream to reality when I started pricing out materials on the Lowes website.  I generally work that way – an idea stews around for a few days/weeks/years, but the second I say it out loud (which I did, to Mister, in a phone call that he wasn’t too pumped about, I’m sure) and start pricing things, its ohhhh shit, now it’s on.

So these here shelves, they’re definitely happening.

While we’re at it, I might as well just solve all the other office issues.  I started this weekend, so we’re very much in the storm before the calm period where everything is a disaster.

Lighting – there’s an overhead lamp, table lamp, and floor lamp yet none of them work.  We repeatedly complain to each other that there’s no light, but no one can figure out why they’re not working

Filing/Paperwork – ITS TAKING OVER MY LIFE.  I picked one of the Pratt Collection filing cabinets on sale at West Elm and instituted a filing system, but I still feel like the papers are taking over and they’re going to start growing and threaten to eat us, Little Shop of Horrors style.

Artwork – I think I hit the Etsy obsession early on when I joined in 2007 and bought oh, pretty much everything I saw.  I still like all the pieces but I’m over the clustered artwork above my desk.  Some things can get tucked away for other rooms, others may stay here in a different arrangement

Milkshed – I need a place to store inventory, packaging supplies, etc. so they don’t pile up in random places.  Plus organization leads to productivity and, with Milkshed, productivity will hopefully lead to salessssss

Books – I normally refuse to get rid of a book.  It’s time to get over this though and either move things to the bookshelf upstairs or let them go.

Curtains – My mom started on curtains in like 2006 from Amy Butler fabric, but I have no idea what happened to them, or if I’d even still like the idea.  Note to self – inquire about these babies

Cables/Office-y stuff – I’ve already rationalized this argument to myself, so just go with me – as much as I’d love to hide the printer somewhere, Mister is the primary user since he’s in school. He’s also a man of logic and generally accepting of my nonsense, so in the spirit of giving more than I’m taking, I’m not going to even suggest that we hide it away somewhere just for the sake of looks.  This is an office and they have office-y things, so I’ll corral the cords the best I can and just live with the reality of the situation.

If you follow me on twitter or instagram, you already know that we’ve made a ton of progress on the office this weekend. Stay tuned for updates!

Scenes from our house

I have some house plans coming up, but before I launch into all that I thought it best to at least give some background on our home.  You may be asking yourself, self, why does a knitting blog have all these home sites listed under their daily reads?  That makes no sense.  And to that, I would say, hey fun reader, this isn’t a knitting blog, though it may often seem that way.  It’s a personal blog and my person just so happens to be currently consumed with all things knitting, but we’re not limited to just those skills, no!

So I moved into this house in the Fall of 2005.  For the mathematicians among you, that means I’ve been here for coming up on 7 years. Seven! That’s longer that I’ve ever done anything in my life pretty much.  Just as I was graduating from college in 2005, my parents announced they were moving to China.  My plans to move home quickly disappeared and with nowhere else to go, we found this cute little doll house for me to live in.  Around christmas 2010 Mister arrived with bags and never left so now it’s our house, not just mine.  There’s nothing like moving to force yourself to get rid of all the stuffs that accumulate over the years and with his arrival came his stuff and so tons of mine had to go. Thank god.  It needed to happen. Things are forever in transition though because the house, adorable as it may be, is quite small, and our stuff – there’s just too much.  I often daydream about just throwing everything away and living with almost nothing, not because I’m an awesome progressive person who only needs necessities to live, but because I sometimes want a stark white home with great light and dark wood floors with a lone eames chair and I could just sit around in awe of my ability to pick the perfect shade of paint for my walls.


My home dissatisfaction goes in waves.  The problems are fairly simple – too much stuffffff, too little storage, need dog-friendly things since we’re not donating Emma and Cooper to the Salvation Army (henceforth referred to as Sals Arm), budget is approximately $0, and a general lack of energy/follow through.  I constantly daydream about all these projects we could take on, but they never seem to happen.  Before I go blaming that on anyone else though, know that I painted the guest room (a former nursery) literally before any furniture arrived in the home and it’s still not finished to this day.  So.  yeah.  This is what we’re dealing with.

Among these concerns, we have a larger issue of a basement that has brought me to tears on multiple occasions due to flooding.  First it was sewage.  Imagine yourself, 22, brand new homeowner, single female, cleaning up poop water.  Not once.  Not twice. Not even half a dozen times.  The basement flooded with sewage literally more times that I can remember, but we’ll call it a conservative 15.  I spent years and a (not so small) fortune working with every plumber you can imagine, my local city officials, and more.  Fences were taken down so yards could be dug up, pipes replaced, lines snaked, video cameras went down pipes and finally finally the sewage flooding stopped.

Until the basement flooded again.

This time with storm water.

While Mister was away on Military duty.

Very shortly after moving in.

After he’d setup the partially finished basement as his office/music room.

This time the carpet, baseboard, and sections of drywall were gutted.  The floor was jack hammered up, more pipes replaced, a check valve installed and we’re – for real this time – no longer flooding.  But the aftermath remains and the basement is still in need of remodeling.  The space belongs to Mister, not me, but until it’s completed, his stuff is scattered around the house and our stuff/organization problem is compounded.  The love I once had for this home has disappeared in the process.  This house and I have been going through a vicious breakup for years now, only we’re still roommates and cannot escape each other.  Everything I fell in love with remains – a great layout, adorable original details, hardwood floors, the best “curb appeal” any House Hunters couple could ever want, but we’ve been torn apart by the repeated torture of the basement and I doubt we’ll ever have feelings for each other again.  Alas, real estate – not such an easy thing to just walk away from, so Mister and I are stuck here indefinitely.

Knowing that we can’t leave any time soon, complaining (something I’m super great at) is futile, so let’s focus on projects and pictures for a bit!

I bought the place from a young couple with two kids.  It was staged to sell, somewhere between Pottery Barn catalog and a slightly dated HGTV episode – perfect for prospective buyers.  The house looked great, really, but it wasn’t my style and I knew the red accent walls and sage green had to go.

my starter furniture, with the previous owners paint colors

College furniture and really really bad paint colors from the previous owners

Fresh out of college and unaware of the whole concept of design blogs, I settled into a nice but year-2005 predictable blue & brown color scheme.  Furniture was purchased from one of those mass retailers along with some IKEA.  I knew I didn’t want matching suites, but nothing further, really.

The dining room after I moved in. I was pretty proud of this back in the day.

Earlier version of the living room – couch, coffee table, rug, curtains, paint color are all gone now

My mom and I ripped out the disgusting carpet in the back room and put in new floors.

gross carpet

current floors

After years of khaki walls, I couldn’t take it any longer and repainted the entire first floor by myself one weekend.  I still wasn’t yet smart enough to look for paint suggestions or paint test swatches, so I still think the gray reads a bit blue, but I’m generally ok with the color.

I also realized my mistake of buying now vs. buying what I really want and slowly phased in new pieces.

I adore the original bathroom but the previous owners had this huge medicine cabinet installed.  The storage was so so necessary but it blocked a ton of light and was just massive in the space, so I took it down and patched the walls.  Then painted them black.  I don’t think a single person was in favor of this wall color but I adore it to this day.

paint is still wet in this picture – no worries, its not that glossy

I originally painted the master bedroom the same color as my college bedroom, and judge if you will, 22 (23, 24, 25) year old Stefanie loved it.  When I knew Mister was going to move in though, I thought it was time to bring some more masculinity to the room and settled on an awesome navy blue around fall 2010.

old bedroom color

Current color, but not current room – photo is terrible, I know

Mister hates this sofa.  It’s an often discussed Corona from Macy’s, but in the optional (and, to my knowledge, never actually advertised) sectional setup that I discovered by chance.  It was a bear to order from the factory, but worth the cost and wait. This was my first large furniture purchase and I still love it.  After years I still get random questions about the sofa on my flickr feed.

So here’s the house pretty much as it stands this day and I still have a million changes to make.  Now that I have this here space on the internet, surely they’ll be documented.

I have a million projects milling around in my head but for the sake of blog organization, I’ll break them out in separate posts.  I know, right.  How forward thinking of you, Stefanie.  Also, how uncharacteristically organized of you.   Thanks, blog! I’m trying.