Wisteria wondering

I believe we’ve identified the super aggressive tendril-y plant next to the garage as Wisteria. Hooray! Now I need to get it the heck out of that area because it’s already done enough damage there. My question is: do I want Wisteria somewhere else?


We’ve got plenty of room, and I do love a free plant, so I’m a little reluctant to get rid of it altogether. BUT, do I want to introduce it to another area of the yard?

Wisteria next to the garage.

If I do save and transplant it, I’d want to put it somewhere along the perimeter of the property, so it can be of use in the form of some privacy. I’ve read that it can take down just about anything nearby, so it needs to be far from the house and garage, and not next to any trees that seem vulnerable. Is it worth the risk or should I walk away in the fashion of our times?

Bad Blood walk away explosion



Remember the vine roots I mentioned that had grown along the mortar lines between the bricks? Here’s a fun example:
Roots of this tree formed themselves into the spaces between the bricks.

Looks neat, eh? I’m mostly just happy that it didn’t get INTO the mortar. Our strategy of cutting the stem at any points we could get through it seems to be working – the top of the growth is wilting and dying and the parts that are stuck to the house are getting easier to remove as they dry out.

I believe that I’ve identified the aggressive plants next to the garage as wisteria, so now I need to get that away from the structure. There’s a lot of grape hyacinth and some milkweed growing nearby, though, so I don’t want to lose those. Slowly but slowly, I’m getting a plan together!

Star Trek approval

FO Friday: 120%

I really like the Date Night purse I made, but it’s just not quite big enough for day to day use. So I decided to take matters into my own scanner/copier’s hands and enlarge the pattern!

Date Night purse at 120% -  Dog Under My Desk pattern

(apologies for the flash on that image – I was having trouble getting the very subtle fabric print to show up.) I chose to do it at 120%, which may be a tiny tad larger than I truly need, but it works really well and the purse doesn’t feel stuffed when I have all my necessities in it.

Date Night purse at 120% -  Dog Under My Desk pattern

I also love this lining fabric – so fun and reminiscent of the days when I was sewing from paper patterns (not that people don’t still do this – I just happen to use mostly online stuff right now). There’s something romantic about paper patterns illustrations.

I also put in an extra pocket, so there’s one on each side of the lining. I really cannot ever have too many pockets in a purse! This way my pens have a special spot, as do my sunglasses, phone, reading glasses, and lotion. I can also fit in an Essential Wristlet (minus the strap) containing the little stuff (gum, mints, advil, etc) that tends to get lost if it’s not contained, as well as my wallet and whatever small items I need that day. I’ve already gotten a few compliments on this bag!

cabinets (the kitchen kind)

(as opposed to the more glamorous musical kind that hold amps)

We officially cleaned all the kitchen cabinets with the most refreshing-smelling wood cleanser ever, Murphy’s Oil Soap. (Also recently reported to be the best choice according to the kitchn.)

so fresh

So we washed everything and cleaned off a lot of dust and gross schmutz.

Cleaning the kitchen

Several of the drawers have been very heavily worn and I’m wondering what the best solution is.
Cleaning the kitchen

Cleaning the kitchen

I mean, obvs we can get some shelf liner type stuff to put in before we put in utensils or whatever, but is there anything else we can do to protect them from further damage? I don’t know if we can eventually replace the drawer bases? The cabinets are KraftMaid, so I really need to find out how they construct their stuff (is there glue holding the drawer base in place, or is it just slotted into a channel?). Anyone out there have experience with this type of damage?

Another project on the to-figure-out list is this big tall cabinet that is coming off the wall.
new house

You can see the light showing through in the upper right interior corner – that’s where it’s no longer adhered securely to the wall. The cabinet has those really nice slide-out shelves, which we imagine someone probably tried to use as a ladder, causing the cabinet to come unmoored. We need to determine whether this is something we can secure ourselves or if we need a cabinet expert to do it. Anyone worked on a project like this one and have any suggestions?

Luckily, we can take our time figuring this out, since we have this adorable nook with more storage – so we’ll have a place to temporarily put the things that will eventually live in the tall cabinet.
new house

Bob Vila! Norm Abram! Help a gal out!

unidentified growing objects

Now that the weather is really warming up and we’ve had a bunch of rain, things are starting to really get growing. As they do, we can see what’s there at our new place and that helps with my in-progress plan for the yard and future gardens.

Some of the plants look familiar, but others I’m not certain about. If anyone recognizes any of these, please let me know!

These mushrooms popped up in the corner of the fenced-in section of our backyard – they look like morels, but are they really the edible kind?
Look what's growing in our backyard! Is this a morel, a false morel, or something else?

This planter in the corner of the back yard has, I believe, some kind of Sage/Salvia and on the right, a hosta.
planting bed in back yard

Next to the garage, there’s a shrub of some kind and a lot of what look like lilies.
behind garage

Does this shrub look familiar to anyone?
close up of shrub behind garage

On the side of the garage, mixed in with other stuff, is this:
unidentified plant growing next to garage -  keep or junk?
It’s not clear to me if it’s a planted-on-purpose or a volunteer. Anyone recognize it?

Further around that side I found some milkweed! I’m so excited and I hope we’ll see some monarchs!
milkweed growing next to garage!

From the thorny wood on these plants up front, I’m assuming they’re roses:
by the front door - roses, I think

These are also up front (other side of the door), and I believe might be Coneflower/Echinacea:
unidentified plant next to front door - maybe coneflower?

And on the east side of the house, there are a couple of shrubs that seem to be doing quite well despite being planted REALLY close to the house:
unidentified shrubs on east side of house

This one has huge buds on it already! Anyone know what it is?
close up of shrub on east side of house

If not, we’ll be able to tell soon when it blossoms.

These two things are nearby, and both of these look like they could be weeds? Or maybe the one in the rear is an ornamental grass of some kind?
unidentified plants (weeds?) on east side of house

This small tree (or is it a shrub?) is out front, struggling to get sun while competing with the very large maple tree:
unidentified tree in front yard

Anyone recognize these leaves?
close up of unidentified tree in front yard

We measured everything out so I can make an aerial view plan and decide where future garden beds will be. All in all, I’m so excited about the possibilities! For now, there’s FAR TOO MUCH grass to mow (and our current mower is on its deathbed, so we’ve been eking out what little juice the battery will hold, mowing section by section, until our new mower arrives), but it does look pretty nice! It will likely be quite awhile before we can afford the adorable white picket fence (having a double lot is awesome! but it’s big!), but I can certainly plan my plantings around that so that when we do have it installed, we won’t wreck anything. I’m going to go for an English cottage garden style while using predominantly native plants from this area – any suggestions for things I should grow?

New home

vines be gone

We are making progress on removing the vines from the side of the house in preparation for the new roof!

My first reaction when we saw the vines was, “kill it with fire!” but since we can’t use bluebell flames (or Lumos Solem, if we’re talking movies) on these, we’re going old school with loppers, pruners, and a hand saw.

As you can see here, they were pretty out of control (this pic is from a previous year but the growth is not too different):
realtor 23

I was super surprised at, for the most part, how easily the vines came off! I started snipping really carefully, but then K just started grabbing and pulling and – to my (happy) surprise – they came off without a huge amount of hassle and they didn’t bring any chunks of mortar with them. Some of the roots were formed into the shape of the bricks they were on – there were little square shapes where they went along the mortar lines (but thankfully did not invade the mortar).

Vine removal day one

I recognize most of these vines as some variety of wintercreeper (Euonymous) – the same plant I used to cover the ugly metal back fence at our home downstate! Its aggressive vertical climbing and clinging habit was great for that setting, but definitely not ideal for use on a structure like a house. Part of the vines are something else, though – the section on the left hand side are something that has much thicker trunk/stem, some of which is nestled tightly into the corner where the kitchen nook juts off the back of the house (just to the left of the electrical box). K successfully sawed through the thickest part so that the upper part is now completely severed from the roots. Hopefully both parts will die a bit and make it easier to get it off the brick!

vines on house

We don’t have a ladder yet (had one, but it’s still in storage and won’t fit in our cars, so it will have to wait or just not come back – a new ladder is on order and should arrive soon) but there’s only a bit of stuff left that we’ll be able to get down once it’s here. So far only one of the screens was significantly infested with vine roots and we’ve had that fixed, so we can now open any of the first-floor windows and get a nice breeze going. Which will be important, since we move in less than a week and there’s no central air (yet – someday)!

vines mostly cleared away

We now have some big piles of branches that I need to trim and stack, but it’s been super rainy so I haven’t gotten to it yet. I did take advantage of the wet weather to pull out the roots of the vines, so I need to figure out some mulch or something for that area so it doesn’t sprout a million weeds.

vines somewhat cleared away

I also need to figure out a plan for what we want to grow in this area – I’m thinking maybe we can borrow some Pachysandra sprouts from my folks, since they have a lot of it and it won’t grow too tall or climb. This area may prove to be too sunny for it – but we’ll have to wait and see.

winner winner, maple syrup dinner!

What? AS EVERYONE KNOWS, breks for dinner is one of the best dinners you can eat.

So, things have been super busy and I’m pretty belated in reporting this, but my challenge quilt won a gold star at the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival of Quilts!

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival of Quilts 2015

I was going out of town for work later in the day, but I was able to sneak over to the quilt show right as it opened that morning. There were some really nice quilts in the show, and the challenge quilts were all very different, which was neat.

I just love this 1930s-inspired fabric:
Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival of Quilts 2015

The limited color palette of this quilt is really appealing:
Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival of Quilts 2015

The Spring Fling challenge quilts were all about the same size, which I found interesting. They were required to be 60-100″ in perimeter, but the fact that several of us came up with pretty much the exact same size surprised me.
2015 Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival of Quilts - Spring Fling challenge quilts

So, not only did I win a gold star, but I also won some maple syrup and maple candy!
Best portrayal of Spring Fling theme:gold

So cool! I feel really pleased to have won a thing on my first try!

home again, home again

As of last Friday, we are once again happy owners of our very own home!

We own a home!

The saying goes that the third time is the charm, and I really kind of feel like that’s true in this case. This is the third home I’ve bought but the first one about which I’m truly excited about the form on top of the function. I love the architecture of this house and it’s just perfect for an English Cottage style garden (my fave). It’s a perfect size for us and I really can’t wait to move in and make it our own.

It has a bit of fixing up to do, but I love a good project! And in this case, many projects. We’ve already started meeting with contractors about a lot of these – some to do right away and some to have ballpark figures for the future. We also jumped right in on getting the interior ready for move-in. After we closed, K went to work and I measured a bunch of the rooms so K can make a model for furniture arrangement. I also cleaned some of the floors (former owners had not lived there in many years and their definition of “broom clean” involves a LOT of dust and insect carcasses) and continued making lists of things we want to do before officially moving in. The living room looks SO much better after a good cleaning!

Living room floor, freshly cleaned

One of those projects we’re doing ourselves is to clear the brush pile next to the garage. It’s a wood pile but with a ton of brush on top of that, so it’s kind of a mess. I neglected to take a before pic this weekend, so here’s one from when we looked at the house earlier this winter.

621 East Andre

There’s a bit more brush there than this photo shows – lots of long branches that needed to be chopped up and were all sort of intertwined with each other and everything with leaves all over. What a mess!

Wood and brush pile: after day 1 of work

I got a pretty good start on it, though!

Wood and brush pile: after day 1 of work

I only did what I could do by hand, so there are still a bunch of thicker branches that need to be cut into more manageable pieces. I also just barely got to the fire wood pile that was under the brush, but after five solid hours of work, I was ready for a break so I left the rest for another day.

I have a couple of kits for compost bins on order, so as soon as those arrive and I get them situated, I can clear away the leaves and create easier access to the rest of the wood pile. I’m hoping to give away the wood and kindling, since real fires indoors are an allergen for me (despite having two working wood fireplaces in the house, it’s not wise for me to be around them while in use).

I also met some of our new neighbors while doing yard work this weekend. They all seem very nice and I spied some raised beds in one of their back yards, so they shouldn’t mind if we have the same in ours!

FO Friday: even more sewing!

I am addicted to sewing lately! Not that I don’t normally enjoy it, but I’ve been super productive lately. I attribute this to a few factors: K is working so I have more hours at home when he’s not around to be available to do stuff with, I have a few trips coming up for which I’d love to have choices for The Perfect Bag(s), and lastly, we are in the final stages of buying our next home and I have a lot of extraneous anticipatory energy that I am channeling into sewing as opposed to fretting/obsessive planning. (Not that I’m not still planning like a fiend.)

I’m also in the market for a new everyday bag/purse. I would love to downsize a bit – I am accustomed to carrying a rather huge bag containing every possible thing I might need or want – BUT I also want to be able to take my laptop with me when I need to (which is fairly often) and I don’t know that I want to be carrying two bags on those days (SO, if I have a larger laptop-accommodating bag that I only use when needed, then I need my everyday purse to fit inside it, while still containing all the stuff I want with me all the time). (I only want my bags to be everything or all situations!) I am so far from the woman who refused to carry anything more than a duct tape wallet! But how can I live without room for sunglasses, wallet, keys, phone, emergency nuts, gum, mints, reading glasses, small notebook, pen and emergency backup pen, checkbook (I could live without this, for all I use it these days), and whatever else I’m forgetting at the moment?

Anyway. It does seem like I might be able to survive quick jaunts around town with slightly less baggage, so I made the Date Night bag (pattern by Dog Under My Desk – the best patterns I’ve found).

Date Night purse (pattern by DUMD)

It’s cute and a great size for a minimal amount of stuff (wallet, sunglasses, keys, phone). I have used it on a few quick errands and *gasp* survived without all my extra crap! Of course I used a fun Star Trek print for the lining.

Date Night purse (pattern by DUMD)

I’ve also been thinking that, while I’m on my upcoming work trips, I’d like to have some smaller mini-bags to store specific things inside the Take-Off Tote I posted about last week. For instance, my iPod and headphones. I have an ancient-by-today’s-standards iPod (5th generation classic), and I like over-ear headphones, so they actually take up a little bit of space.

Star Trek large boxed corner Essential Wristlet

The larger version of the DUMD Essential Wristlet with boxed corners is perfect!

Star Trek large boxed corner Essential Wristlet

You can’t tell in this photo, but the lining is a neat tonal dye that is somewhat variegated throughout. Plus, more cool Star Trek fabric.

Feeling adventurous from all this bag sewing, I took a chance and got a wallet pattern by a different designer. It’s okay but not up to the standard to which I’ve become accustomed.

Ultimate Wallet pattern by So Sew Easy

It’s the Ultimate Wallet by So Sew Easy. The directions weren’t bad, but definitely didn’t give the level of detail or precision I’m used to with Erin’s DUMD patterns.

Ultimate Wallet pattern by So Sew Easy

I was pretty unimpressed by some of the construction details – there are a lot of big, heavy, thick areas that could/should be trimmed down in ways not included in the directions, and it’s just not as precise as I’d like in both measurements and instructions. I had more than a few moments along the way of thinking, “but what if I…” but I chose to trust the pattern and not second-guess it. I should have gone with my gut in this case!

Ultimate Wallet pattern by So Sew Easy

On the plus side, it has a zillion card pockets and plenty of space for paper money, as well as an internal zippered pocket. Overall, I’d say: great in theory but not so great in execution. It’s not a bad pattern and I didn’t see any errors, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for.

Back to the safe, happy terrain of DUMD patterns for my next one! This time it’s the Day Tripper.

Dog Under My Desk Day Tripper

This is obviously not a smaller bag, but I still wanted to make it. I wanted to try using home decor fabric AND doing a bag that uses traditional batting rather than Soft and Stable (much as I love Soft and Stable, it’s somewhat pricey and not sold locally so I have to order it online).

Dog Under My Desk Day Tripper

This bag is awesome for a person like me who loves pockets! You’ve got the zippered exterior pocket, sectioned open pocket on the back, sectioned open pocket on the interior – and I added another sectioned open pocket on the other side of the lining. Pockets for everyone!

Dog Under My Desk Day Tripper

This may become an everyday bag for me. When I bought my big splurge Coach bag, I expected that the quality would be top-notch and that it would essentially last forever. NOPE. It has frayed on one of the straps where a big bit of the covering on the strap peeled away JUST LIKE a bargain imitation-leather purse would have done. BOOO. I can of course trim off the fraying bits as they happen, but one should not have to do that with a big-name expensive purse. Anyway, I can always use this Day Tripper for an everyday bag instead, until I wean myself down to a smaller one.

In the meantime, I’m feeling pret-tay good about all this accomplishment.

Hermione gif