Thursday, August 20, 2015

Broody Chicken!

Our Easter Egger, Vanilla Ice, laid her first egg today in one month! That's right. Broody July 20-August 20. Nate sent me a picture at work:

Monday, August 17, 2015

From Woodstock to Mackie: My Mexican Embroidered Dress Obsession

My aunt Janet has an amazing yellow dress covered in colorful embroidery that she breaks out every summer, retelling the story of how she wore it to Woodstock. This summer, my sister Molly's sister-in-law Jen found a company selling similar Mexican embroidered dresses in a myriad of colors: The Mackie. Molly had to have one. So did I. And soon, so did all of our girl cousins! I had such a hard time picking a color, I left a note in the checkout page of the website asking for a surprise color! The dress arrived in Orchid and I couldn't be happier! I got the "Classic" length and then hemmed it to above my knee, because I was worried "Beach" length would be too short. It was fun to see all the cousins in their Mackie dresses at a recent family reunion, no two are the same! Note Janet wearing the original.

I'm a little obsessed. Despite a rather difficult website with far too few photos of the colors available, I'm considering getting another one! I have my eye on the orange with solid white stitching, if it ever comes back in stock! There's an interview with company founder Pam Cameron on the Wild Precious Life blog, which features my favorite quote about the Mackie dress: 
"The great thing about the Mackie is its versatility. There’s the 'day to night' aspect of it. I’ll wear it with flip-flops at the beach or to lunch and then at night with wedge heels and earrings to dinner. However, a friend of mine recently pointed out that she likes the 'night to day' strength of the Mackie. She wears it to bed, wakes up and wears it straight out to get her coffee and drop the kids at school! It looks great with a big broad brimmed sun hat, espadrilles and a belt for something like strolling through the farmers market."

The Mackie goes to work! I felt that the black belt, cardigan and ballet flats dressed it up for the office.
Molly ordered a size up (small instead of XS) to leave room for the baby in her belly :)

Dresses can be ordered at and there are better pictures on the company's Facebook page.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August 2015 Stitch Fix Review

Today my third Stitch Fix box arrived! I tell you what, that's some exciting mail. This fix was done by Carrie and I think it's my best yet, although looking back at the last one, I could have kept everything in that box and been happy.

My stylist Carrie really payed attention to my note and my Pinterest board, and was specific about why she chose certain things. That was really fun, and made me feel like she spent some time looking at my style. So. Here's what I found in the box:

Jilla Gupier Lace Detail Tank by Skies are Blue ($48). I had pinned some lacey tops and also shirts with henley necks on my Pinterest board, and clearly Carrie was paying attention! This shirt is so soft. I usually wear tops a little more fitted so my first reaction was that it was too big, but I think loose is a look, right? I also struggled with what necklace to wear with the henley neckline. I liked it ok with my jean shorts (Quicksilver) and orange shorts (Hurley), and even better with jeans (Loft). Mom voted yes. Molly voted no. Verdict: KEEP.

 Kamile Jersey Ruched Detail Dress by Gilli ($54). Carrie says, "I thought the grey dress would be special for your birthday but still casual when paired with black sandals. In the fall, it would be amazing under your leather jacket and a pair of textured tights." This dress is really comfortable and I can definitely see myself wearing it to work. That said, it's a little plain, and as Molly reminded me, I'm better with a little more color. Mom voted yes. Molly voted no. Verdict: SENT BACK.

Maycon Halter Top by 19 Cooper ($54). Carrie says, "The 19 Cooper halter has a tassel hem that will provide texture and interest to your look. And how cute will that trim be peeking out of your edgy moto when the weather cools?!" This tank is one of those things I would never pick for myself, but liked much better when I put it on. I thought it was cute with a variety of bottoms (even my purple jeans). I also loved it that Carrie payed attention when I mentioned in my styling note that I didn't know what to wear with my new moto (which, btw, is not real leather and from Zara). Mom voted yes. Molly voted yes. So I went ahead and wore it on Sunday! Verdict: KEEP.

Vena Short by Skies are Blue ($38). Carrie says, "The pink short with either top is another casual option for a birthday by the grill." I love the hot pink color of these, and while I didn't really like them with the Stitch Fix shirt, I liked them a lot better with a solid tee or tank (although maybe not that bubble necklace now that I look at it).  I'm wondering if I'm supposed to wear them high or low on my waist (see below)? Sadly, they're a little too tight so even though I want to keep them, I can't. I emailed Stitch Fix to ask if I could exchange for a bigger size, but they said they are sold out of mediums. Sigh. Verdict: SENT BACK.

Malvina Triangle Lariat Necklace by Soko ($68). Carrie says, "The necklace is higher than you requested to spend, but it reminded me so much of one on your Pinterest board that I thought you'd love it." Of course, she's right. I do love it. And it is more than I typically spend on jewelry. But oh, it's so fun! Despite really liking this necklace, it's just out of my price range. Verdict: SENT BACK.

There's one more thing about Stitch Fix. If you keep all 5 items, you get a pretty hefty discount. If the shorts had fit, I might have kept all 5. But since they didn't fit, I planned to send them back. The problem is, if I only sent back the shorts, I would pay more than if I kept the too-small shorts. I can't rationalize that. So then I had to pick something else to send back, which led me the the dress that I liked but didn't love. When I really thought about it, I'd rather buy another Mackie dress in grey, which has a little more going on, than keep this one. But even then, keeping 3/5 of the items, I was really quite close to the price of keeping 5/5. So that's when I nixed the necklace. Which I really do like. But I'm trying to be smarter about spending money on clothes.

If you think you might be interested in a magical personal shopper from the fairytale kingdom of the internet, check out Stitch Fix. To see more posts about clothing, including Stitch Fix reviews, click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

DIY Plywood Wide Plank Floor

We had a big debate over what to do with the basement floor for Nate's workshop. We definitely didn't want to keep the old carpet. We weren't sure we wanted to pay the big bucks for a nice engineered wood floor (can't do hardwood below grade). So after a lot of research (and an excellent post by Picklee on Spring) we decided on using plywood, cut into strips to look like wide planks. We were feeling confidant about our flooring skills after the studio upstairs came out so beautifully.

Here's the "before" picture from the original house listing, with the blue carpet:

Here's the floor after we pulled up the carpet, with just the plywood subfloor:

After measuring and researching plywood options, we decided on birch 4'x8' panels, which we had the nice guy at Home Depot cut into 1' wide strips:

We also bought rolls of underlayment for sound dampening and insulation:

After letting the wood acclimate in the room for about a week, we got to work. First we rolled out the underlayment, using the staple gun to attach it to the subfloor. We left a little extra around all the edges.

Then we got to work on the boards. We used our compressor and nail gun to attach the boards to the floor. I had read that it's more secure to send the nails in at an angle, but we couldn't get them to go in all the way when we tried that, so we ended up just sending them straight down. We used a rubber mallet to bang each board nice and tight to the one next to it, with someone standing on the board to hold it in place. This process took us about a week, spending an hour or two each day.

When we got to the final row, we had to cut ("rip") the last boards the long way for them to fit. We used the silly saw to get the part around the door frame, and it's not perfect. But it fits. We'll be putting 1/4 round moulding all around the room, so the edges didn't have to be perfect.

Next came time for poly. We decided on Minwax Polyurethane for Floors in Satin finish, primarily because it's the same stuff we used for the studio floor upstairs. The satin finish should hide scuffs a little better than a high gloss would.

I can't exaggerate how much easier this was to do with the correct tools — namely, a roller with a long handle — than the first time around on the studio. I first went around the edges of the room with a brush and then rolled on the main part of the floor, and each coat took a little under an hour. We didn't bother taping because we plan to paint the base moulding. I had a little hiccup halfway through: the instructions on the poly say you can recoat after 6 hours, but if you wait more than 10 hours, you need to sand before the next coat. I ran out of poly after 2 coats and would have to go to Home Depot for more, putting me past the 10 hour mark. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The floor had a little bit of a grit to it when the 2 coats dried, we're not really sure why. Maybe I did a bad job with the rolling. Anyway sanding the floor really helped to smooth it out, so when we went back the next weekend to do the last 2 coats it really looked great.

Next up is the moulding around the base of the walls, which will be painted white. First came primer:

Next we'll nail-gun the 1/4 round all the way around, and do a top coat (or two) with paint.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 2015 Stitch Fix Review

Woohoo! I came home to my second ever Stitch Fix! I'm so excited! And with this lovely box, my New Year's Resolution is coming to a close. I can at least be proud that I made it past the planned 3 months of not buying any clothes. If you're not familiar, the premise of Stitch Fix is that you fill out a questionaire about your size and style preferences, and then schedule when you want the clothes to be delivered. There is a $20 "styling fee" which gets subtracted from the price of whatever you keep, and you don't pay for whatever you send back in the pre-paid return package.

In the message to my stylist, I requested things appropriate for our variable spring weather. I said I wanted to go a little edgier than I had in the past, and was really hoping for pale distressed skinny jeans, a moto jacket, and a brown purse that I can wear cross-body style to replace the black bag I've been carrying for, well, a couple of years now.

Here's what was in the box:

Fun colors. Off to a good start. No moto jacket. Alas.

I started with the jeans, seen here in the two pictures on the left. They are the Haiden Distressed Straight Leg Jean made by Kut from the Kloth, $88. Distressed? Check. And a fun two-button closure with a slightly higher waist? Also cool. But then again, the color just about the same as the hand-me-down Citizens of Humanity jeans (which I cuffed to look like the Haiden), seen in the picture on the right. I have so many jeans, I think I can only justify them if they're significantly different from ones I already have. So, moving on.
This is the Moni Geo Print & Camisole Blouse by 41Hawthorn, $58. I love the fun orange color and print! I also appreciate that it comes with an off-white tank to wear under the blouse because it's see-through. My first inclination is that this is a keeper. I'm a little wary of the way the sleeves gather, it feels a little funny on the backs of my arms, and now that I see the pictures, is it strange that you can see my pants so clearly underneath? Is it awkwardly sheer? Also now noticing that the neck is flipped down, I have a feeling that might happen all the time. Although that doesn't really bother me. A slight downside is that it's not stretchy so pulling it off, it gets kind of caught around my shoulders and I had to do some minor gymnastics to get it over my head. So, back on the fence. But I do love the color.

Next I grabbed the bag, which I'm super psyched about. The Lyla Woven Crossbody Bag by Urban Expressions ($54) is big enough to carry all the various things do-dads I carry around, like my phone, wallet, and an extra sweater. Wouldn't have picked the chain-style strap for myself, or the woven detail, but I like it that it's got a little pizzaz. Looking again at the jeans, they're not doing me any favors.

I am LOVING this navy and white striped sweater, the Addison Striped Knit Cardigan by 41Hawthorn, $48. Even though I say I think 3/4 sleeves are dumb because they don't keep you warm in a cold office, I feel like I could make an exception for this. It's a lightweight, loose knit and I've been wanting to branch out into open-front sweaters, as all of mine are solid color crew-neck with buttons all the way to the top. Leaning toward keep.

Finally, I tried on the Jakobe Cevron Print Maxi Dress by Pixley, $78. It is SO COMFY. I can see myself wearing this to work with a sweater or to a cookout in the summer (I love long skirts because they are both warm and protect from mosquitoes!). The colors are right up my alley. Also, I was wearing it when Nate came home and he told me he liked it! Unprompted! That's a major plus. Side view leaves something to be desired, and I'll have to hem it a little, but I'm still leaning toward keep on the dress.

Not bad for my second fix! Now for decisions, and the downside to Stitch Fix. If you keep all 5 items, you get a 25% discount on the total. So, if I buy all 5, minus the discount, the total is $249.50. Kind of a lot of money. If I keep everything but the jeans, I end up at $238, which is almost the same amount. That feels kind of like a waste, right? So that makes me lean toward also returning the orange blouse to get it down to $180, which I feel kind of better about (maybe this is crazy reasoning?)... I'm not feeling so rich right now. If I was really being stingy, I would only keep the bag. But I do like that sweater. And I like wearing the dress. What to do??

UPDATE/Recap:  When it came down to game time, I kept the bag and the maxi, because those are the two items I think I'll use the most. I really did like all the things that came in the box, if only I had endless space in my closet and money to burn! I decided against the striped sweater because it was thin and 3/4 sleeves, not really warm enough to wear in my office, and also seemed pricey for a rayon/nylon blend. Mom and Molly both voted for the orange top, but I was too nervous about getting in and out of it without tearing the seams. The color and print were super cute though!

UPDATE, AFTER A FEW WEEKS: I am loving both the dress and the bag, but am sorry to report that the gold bedazzlements on the bag's strap catch my hair and rip it out, a couple strands at a time. Sadly, I can only really use it when my hair is up in a bun or otherwise away from my shoulders. Word to the wise!

If you think you might be interested in Stitch Fix, check them out! If you use the link, I get a little "referral bonus" credit to use toward my next shipment :)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Painting Metal Porch Furniture (DIY)


Step 1: Use a wire brush to clean and scruff up the existing paint, getting rid of loose chips of paint, rust and the mossy moldy stuff growing on the chair.

Make sure to keep the chickens away from the paint.

Step 2: Coat with Rust-oleum "Rusty Metal Primer"

Step 3: Once the primer has dried for a few hours, coat with Rust-oleum in your favorite color! This took 2 coats to really get the coverage I was looking for.

Pretty simple, really! And much, much cheaper than the Fermob chairs I've been pining over!


Now, on to the rest of the chairs, and then the table!