all the running, all the games

Coraline has been welcoming Hermione to our home with a huge amount of playing.

They both love to play, which is awesome for them and for us (as we all know, a tired dog is a good dog). There’s lots of chasing, which I am not great at capturing on video since they move so fast, as well as tussling and bitey-face.

We are so pleased that they get along so well!


It’s a wrap for Middie Blythe

A wrap skirt!

Wrap Skirt for Middie Blythe - mid length

I have found my knitted wrap skirts for Neo Blythe really handy. They go with just about any top and look especially nice with the sweaters I’ve knit.

For my Middie Blythe, Maude, I have the same problem that a lot of collectors do: not enough clothes in Middie size! Like a lot of others, I’ve been collecting Blythe clothes and accessories for awhile, and it can be a little annoying when I realize that I don’t have much in the way of garments for Maude.

Wrap Skirt for Middie Blythe - mid length

So I designed this skirt pattern and included three lengths so I can have more variety in Maude’s wardrobe.

Wrap Skirt for Middie Blythe photo Middie three lengths_zpsnqbodikz.jpg

It can be worn with the wrap in the front, or turned around so that it just appears to be a clean a-line skirt. I made myself quite a few of these and they are SO QUICK to knit up. Almost ridiculously fast – sit down for an hour or two of TV and you’ve got at least one skirt done!

Kim Sweater for Middie Blythe

This pattern can be found on Etsy, Ravelry, Craftsy, and LoveKnitting.

introducing Hermione!

This weekend we adopted a second dog: Hermione!


Isn’t she adorable? We adopted her through the always-excellent Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue, as we have all our dogs.

THIS FACE #bostonterrier #hermione

A photo posted by Anne H. (@annethelibrarian) on

She loves to snuggle, as you can see. She’s about a year and a half old according to the vet’s best guess, and a few pounds lighter than Coraline. They get along terrifically!


She knows a few commands and we’re working with her to learn the ones she doesn’t yet know and to learn the routines we like to keep around the house.

Mega derp #bostonterrier #hermione

A photo posted by Anne H. (@annethelibrarian) on

Beaumont bargain

One of the casualties of our many, many moves over the last few years was our collection of floor rugs. We just didn’t have room to store them and putting them down on top of standard apartment carpeting wasn’t a safe option, so we ended up selling them. Now that we’re back in a home with the glorious hardwood floors we love so much, we need rugs again!

This was especially evident in the master bedroom, which looked plain and maybe a little cold without a rug to warm things up. I also had an issue with our bargain-frame bed sliding across the room when I sat down on it, since there was nothing to keep it moored. (We’re not quite ready to decide on a bed frame with a headboard yet – ideally we’d like something vintage or antique and we MIGHT end up changing to a king sized bed if K has his druthers.)

So, enter Labor Day weekend deals, including an 80% off sale at RugsUSA! We found a few we liked and narrowed it down to the Beaumont Trellis. As it is mostly covered by the bed, we wanted something pretty subtle, with organic shapes rather than stark lines, and something light but warm so the room wouldn’t be weighed down by a dark color. At 80% off, we could actually afford it!

New bedroom rug

Here it is before being placed (ignore the scuffle marks where one of us walked and the pile is going the wrong way). Lovely and subtle!

New bedroom rug

(Also ignore the rug pad peeking out – hadn’t gotten it quite adjusted before taking this photo, apparently.) As you can see there, the rug JUST FITS before meeting the trim where the wall comes out. TOP SECRET: it doesn’t actually just fit. We had to pull the rug up the wall a tiny bit behind the bed in order to make it fit. Hashtag DIY life.

We had a helper while doing this, which made the process extra fun.

New bedroom rug

It’s a good thing she knows the command OFF to remove herself from whatever surface she’s on. With that cute a face, who could be mad at her trying to help?

window well wondering

We have several window wells that have been supporting an overjoyed crop of weeds all summer, and I’ve finally started to make time to clear them out. In doing so, it occurred to me that window wells are supposed to provide drainage, and being full of top soil, ostensibly with plants and roots in it, is not an exceptionally great plan for encouraging water to leave the area. We also noticed that one of the window wells in particular would fill with water whenever we had a particularly heavy rain. NOT COOL.

Window wells

So we started digging out that especially watery well, and came up with a lot of really lovely top soil, which we’ve been transferring to the planting beds and using to fill in some low spots in the lawn.

From what I’ve read, window wells on a house of this vintage may or may not have a drainage system underneath, and if there IS a drainage system, it may or may not be functional after 75 years. We know there’s a weeper that goes around the perimeter of the house, so it might make sense that each window well had a drain leading to that weeper, but it’s equally possible that the weeper is completely separate and there’s no window well drainage system whatsoever.

Window wells

The interwebs seem to think that if there is a drainage system, it would be located something like two feet down from the bottom of the window. We dug out the one well that was collecting water during strong rains and GUESS WHAT there was an assortment of layers of bricks amid the layers of top soil. One of these layers was packed in very tightly and I’m sure that it was blocking water from draining through, so NO WONDER. We’ve now got it dug out approximately two feet and there’s no sign of any drainage pipes or ducts, so we’re guessing there isn’t a formal system in place.

So now we need to (A) decide that we’ve dug sufficiently deep to accept that there’s nothing to find and (B) fill in with crushed stone. Onward and upward!

Related: I’ve been continuing to pull landscaping rocks out of the planting beds (too bad we couldn’t repurpose these stones for the window wells! But my impression is that round rocks are not as good for drainage as crushed stone). Here’s one of the front beds with rocks removed and window well top soil filled in on the left hand half:

More rocks removed, soil added

I also pulled more stones out of the beds in the back yard:

More rocks removed

There are two window wells in the back that need to be dug out, so that soil will go to fill in the top bed here. Pulling these stones out is tedious work, but made all the easier by podcasts. I worked for four hours last weekend and barely noticed the time passing!

Review: Cheap Chic

Cheap Chic Cheap Chic by Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy is a style guide from the 1970s which was recently re-released in a special 40th anniversary edition with a foreword by Tim Gunn.

Having grown up in the 1970s, I found a lot of the style recommendations here to be charming in a nostalgic way. Leotards! Did you know you could wear them as regular clothes? Ever been to an army surplus store? They’re a treasure trove of affordable white pants and stocking caps! Thrift shops: Not just for poor people anymore!

As you can tell, some of the advice and opinions here are a bit dated and some are downright insulting (I am not going to even approach the chapter titled “Ethnics”). There’s a lot of celebration of natural beauty, which is great, but when coupled with photographs of skeletal models who are clearly not healthy, it’s a bit hard to believe that things were really any different in terms of beauty standards in the fashion industry. I did enjoy the tales of thrift scores and it is fun to imagine finding a secondhand shop that hasn’t been picked over (even in the 1990s when I was working at Goodwill, we were trained to look for specific vintage items so that they could be marked up – it’s definitely much more so now that thrifts routinely sell online as well). Tim Gunn’s intro is very brief but conveys his own nostalgia for reading this book.

Full disclosure: I received this copy from Blogging for Books.

ribbon reorg

Since we moved in to Firefly Cottage, I haven’t really had a good system for organizing my ribbons. In fact, I haven’t had a good system since we lived downstate, or possibly ever.

I’ve been storing my ribbon rolls haphazardly thrown/stacked into a shelf, but it’s not working.

Ribbon reorg

Everything has been piled on top of other things, making it hard to get to the one thing I want, which is inevitably underneath at least half a dozen other spools. I decided that I wanted to take advantage of some of the vertical space on the sides of my fabric shelves instead. We’ve been using Command Hooks a lot in our new place, since the walls are plaster and we’re still a bit gunshy on drilling holes and knowing the best hardware to use. (Also, when you’re drilling holes in drywall, it’s easy to be cavalier knowing that all it takes to repair a poorly placed hole is some spackle. Plaster is a bit more tricky so I want to be more deliberate in my decision-making.) I came up with the idea of using hooks plus organizer trays/baskets rather than a more traditional dowel spool-holder since it would be (A) less pricey and (B) fit on the relatively narrow shelf-sides. I had to wait a bit until the local dollar store got some baskets in the size range I wanted with holes in the appropriate place on the side (to fit the hooks), but only a little while! They got a lot of new stock in a week or so ago, so I could keep this project to a minimal cost (rather than buying more expensive baskets at Target or such).

Ribbon reorg

These refreshingly green baskets came in a 4-pack, meaning that I got 8 for only $2 – what a deal!

Ribbon reorg

I now have a lovely line of them on one side of my fabric shelving units.

Ribbon reorg

The sight of this type of organization pleases me to no end. It pushes the same button in my brain that being in an office supply store does. SO GOOD.

Ribbon reorg

This holds most of the ribbon spools I have, but not the teensy tiny ones. I need to find some very shallow/narrow baskets for those, so I’ll be keeping an eye out at the dollar store for something that will work for those very small spools. How do you store your ribbon?

Irrepressible Isobel

The name Isobel is one of my faves. I don’t know many folks with this name, but it is so lovely and the associations I have with it are all positive in the best ways. For instance, who doesn’t adore Isobel Crawley? She’s a staunch feminist and marches to the beat of her own drum, and virtually always shows more empathy than anyone else around her. She holds her own with the Dowager Countess – a thing not everyone can manage – and doesn’t let herself be dissuaded by challenges.

Of course there is also a real life Isobel who is awesome, and that is Carrie Anne‘s amazing daughter. Who else could embody both Kiki and Wasp so effortlessly? She is also a young woman of strong opinions and a kindred picky eater spirit (don’t let the foods touch!) like myself. Her penchant for pink inspired one of my color choices for this sweater as well.

ANYWAY, all of this inspired me to design a Blythe sweater that is no-nonsense but elegant: introducing the Isobel Sweater for Blythe

Isobel Sweater for Blythe

This is a pullover sweater, meaning that it pulls over Blythe’s body – no way she is going to handle something being pulled over her head. The generous ribbed collar gives it plenty of room to stretch and fit nicely over her arms while putting it on. That collar is also luxurious and perfect for chilly autumn or winter days.

Isobel Sweater for Blythe

The body of the sweater is also nice and long, giving a perfect proportion to the large collar. It fits easily over a skirt or trousers, or even just over tights!

Isobel Sweater for Blythe

The Isobel Sweater for Blythe pattern is available on Ravelry, Etsy, Craftsy, and LoveKnitting.

incredible Crassula

Awhile back, I made this shawl and now the pattern is finally available!

Crassula Shawl

There’s a particular succulant I’ve seen online that caught my eye with its striking shade of silvery blue: Crassula arborescens, AKA silver dollar plant or tree crassula. I was inspired to create a shawl that combined these two colors of silver and a turquoise-y blue.

Crassula Shawl

Apparently this plant grows well even in inhospitable conditions and is versatile enough to be used in a variety of settings. This shawl has the same characteristic – it can be worn in a variety of ways and could be dressy or casual depending on what you choose to wear with it. The plant also thrives easily and this pattern is the same – it’s not complicated and the shawl knits up very quickly.

Crassula Shawl

This AnneArchy pattern is waiting for you on Etsy, Ravelry, LoveKnitting, and Craftsy.

woody goodness

Earlier this summer we picked up this magazine rack at a yard sale in town.

Tell City Chair Company magazine rack

It wasn’t in bad shape – mostly just dry and dusty. I cleaned it with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove a fair bit of grime, and then used Restor-a-Finish to work some moisture back into the wood and even out the consistency of the wood tone.

When I turned it over, I discovered that it still has the original tag intact on the underside!

Tell City Chair Company magazine rack

I believe it was probably made in the 1960s from what I’ve found online.

Tell City Chair Company magazine rack

After the Restor-a-Finish, I used Feed-n-Wax to protect it. It’s difficult to tell because I was using my phone camera in not-awesome light, but the wood treatments really brought a richer look to this piece. (Also an interesting smell, or so Coraline thinks.)

Tell City Chair Company magazine rack

Look at that lovely gleam! The top tray has some water damaged areas that are still visible, but they’re not terrible and they don’t bother me. I’m not sure yet where we’ll use it, but I am pretty pleased with this $5 find!