Make This House A Home

For several weeks now, along with my morning coffee, I have been doggedly scouring the interwebs for DIY home improvement ideas; searches such as: “paint colors that work with honey oak”, “installing a tile backsplash”, “organizing your cupboards”, “fixing a weathered exterior door frame” and so on. If you can fix it tor improve it, I’ve probably checked it out. Pinterest and I are finally becoming good buddies. But I’m a little afraid. I can do many things but I don’t claim to be handy around the house, even though I come complete with my own cordless drill and an assortment of hand tools which I pretty much know how to use. Never mind that they were left in my care by a former boyfriend who never came back to claim them. However if I tell you the backstory, perhaps you’ll understand my urge to plunge into the home improvement arena sans any real life building skills.

R. Darling and I have been together 14 years as of this summer (11 of those years married). He purchased our house new before we met, and a few short years later I moved in for good.  Yet I have always identified this house as his house, not our house. I did not pay for it, I did not have the fun of hunting for it with him, therefore it is not mine (in my mind). Though I may refer to it as “our house” in discussion, my heart doesn’t believe it. I still ask for permission to change things around and he still tells me this is my home too and I am allowed to do whatever I want with it. Recently I have come to realize that I want more than just a house. I want a home. A place that reflects the people and things I love most. I spend an awful lot of time here. I should love my surroundings and they should reflect a part of me back to myself when I am here.

Just what I have in mind.....

Just what I have in mind…..

via yaydecor.com

Time has taken its toll on our once modest, but new, home. There are scratches on the baseboard moldings and lower two feet of most walls from the two pooches that were part of R. Darling’s family before I arrived. The paint is peeling on myriad surfaces of kitchen and bathroom, and the house has settled over the years, resulting in some rather frightening cracks in the drywall around major archways. The hall closet suffers from lack of organization; our current shelf system just does not meet our storage needs and I feel that the space is not being utilized to its full potential (enter interwebs searches for: “DIY closet built-ins”). And don’t get me started on all the gold-tone hardware and Hollywood dressing room lighting in the bathrooms. Can you say 90’s?

But this place is ours. We will most likely live here for the rest of our lives unless our dream of retiring to Anacortes when our son is grown ever bears fruit. It is time to make it a home.

So be afraid. Be very afraid. In the coming months I may be exposing you to all the dirty little secrets around my home. My epic fails and massive triumphs will be here for all to see. That scares me almost more than the thought of installing tile or possibly electrocuting myself when switching out the dreaded strip lights in the bathrooms. But I hope you’ll stick along for the ride.  There is bound to be lots of tears and laughter! And ultimately, the realization of a dream. What more could we ask for?


Happy Funksgiving!!

I hope everyone had a joyful, mouthwatering, laughter-filled, and truly wonderful Thanksgiving last Thursday!  I have so very much to be thankful for this year, and I did spend the day reflecting on how truly grateful I am for all that I have been given in this life.  Though there are days I feel worried about things, in my deepest heart I know I am one lucky girl to have all that I do!
For the first time this year we found ourselves traveling further than just across town to my Mother-In-Law’s as we usually do.  My Sister-In-Law hosted it this year and we bravely made our way into the heart of holiday traffic to spend a few hours with my husband’s side of the family.  It was difficult to leave my Mom to her own devices on Thanksgiving since I am her only close family left, and she had just recently been through surgery.  I felt guilty the entire day.  But we had arranged to have her over on Friday for our very own quiet celebration of Thanksgiving, a celebration I call “Funksgiving” (a play on our name), and that made me feel just slightly better about the way the chips had fallen.

Knittymunchkin loves Daddy’s old cars!

Funksgiving is not about getting dressed up, making uncomfortable small talk with people you don’t see often or know very well, or eating fancy foods that make all the guests ooh and ahh over the hostess’ cooking prowess.  It’s about comfort, calm, and a day spent in our own house relaxing and feeling thankful for all our blessings.  Funksgiving came about when my husband and I were first married and had to do the typical family negotiations involved around celebration of major holidays.  Which side of the family would get to spend which holidays with us?  Where would we go?  How could we avoid offending anyone?  My husband comes from a divided family.  His Dad pretty much gets the shaft and we rarely, if ever, see him around any holidays.  I think that’s because he is the easiest when it comes to these kinds of things.  He doesn’t make a fuss and prefers to take the pressure off of us by bowing out, rather than expecting us to have to choose between families.  So then it came down to my parents and my Mother-In-Law.  My parents chose Christmas Day (Christmas Eve has always been “ours” in our own home) and my Mother-In-Law chose Thanksgiving.  We hosted a couple Thanksgivings and Christmases in an attempt to include everyone, but it just didn’t seem to work out. Someone always seemed uncomfortable.   So then my Mother-In-Law started hosting Thanksgiving for that side of the family and my parents would go to a friend’s house to celebrate.  It felt strange not to see my folks at Thanksgiving. So we started inviting them to Funksgiving, which is traditionally the Friday after Thanksgiving, to try to keep everyone happy.
However, this was not the only motivation for the creation of Funksgiving.  Probably the greatest reason was this: leftovers.  Going to others’ homes for the big Thanksgiving meal meant that there was a massive dearth of holiday deliciousness in our fridge during my husband’s favorite holiday of the entire year.  No turkey sandwiches, no leftover green bean casserole, no potatoes and gravy to munch on for days as you relive the glory of a comforting and filling Thanksgiving meal.  We love spending this day with our little family, feeling grateful, and having a quiet meal together in our own home.  It reminds us, for yet another day, of all that we have to be thankful for.
In the spirit of Funksgiving, and because I am still working on decluttering our home, I have a few things I’d like to offer up to all of you lovely readers who take the time to visit my humble blog and stop, for even a moment, to read my nonsense.  I will give these items away, for free, to whoever leaves the first comment requesting the item.  Just one item per person, if you please, and only US requests (I am unable to ship international right now due to lack of funds).  If there seems a huge amount of interest in one particular item, or a question about who commented first, then I will hold a drawing to decide who receives it.
First up, is a copy of “Expectant Little Knits”.  This is all maternity patterns for those of you who are expecting, will be expecting, or know someone who is expecting.  I received a free copy of this, and as Knittymunchkin will be our one and only, I have absolutely no use for this book.  I’d love for one of you to take it off my hands and enjoy it!

“Expectant Little Knits” – image courtesy of amazon.com

My next offering is something a little more near and dear to my heart.  After recently completing a sweater that I’ve not failed to wear at least once a week since its finish (I’ll show you soon), I realized I have some hand knits that really need a better home than I’ve been giving them.  First up is this one: 28thirty (ravelry link).  I have lots of memories of working on this sweater, but only one memory of actually wearing it (other than the photo shoot).  I was newly pregnant and wore it to one of my checkups.  The receptionist complimented my sweater and when I told her I’d knit it myself she was pleasingly congratulatory on my knitting skillz.  Made me feel awesome, especially since I was feeling a tad chubbity with Knittymunchkin blossoming in my belly, but not awesome enough to keep on wearing it.  No matter what I try, it never looks right on me. One funny note: the sleeves look like earthworms, and I’ve always thought of it as my earthworm sweater :) Anyway, I knit this as a size Small and if you’d like to see more details and/or pics, the link to my ravelry project is here and the link to my original post about it on the blog is here.  Any other questions, please feel free to e-mail me or comment here on the blog.  I have just one request regarding this giveaway.  Please, I beg of you, don’t ask for this sweater only to felt, frog, or cut it up!  I want it to be worn by someone.  It would break my heart to have all my hard work destroyed so easily :(  Thank you!
Claimed by lollyknits! Thank you!!

28thirty – front view

Hope each of you had a joyful Thanksgiving and a very Happy Funksgiving to you as well!

Down Time

It’s been a couple weeks again.  This is becoming my thing.  And since it seems that there is a trend going on here, I guess it is about time I make it official: I’m taking a break.
There has been a lot of upheaval at Chez Knittymuggins over the last month.  I have a beautiful son entering the “Terrific Twos” and every day is a roller coaster of emotions, personalities, and power struggles.  Not only is he the biggest love of my life (besides R. Darling, of course), but he is also the most monumental challenge I will ever face.  Being a parent is HARD.  I am a huge ball of stress.  Normally I consider myself an incredibly patient person, and stable enough to weather the ups and downs that life throws at me.  But between mothering, trying to be a good wife, and trying to keep the household chaos down to a dull roar, I’m kind of losing it here.  And I have absolutely no support network to lean on when things get tough.  I’m holding it all inside and going it alone, and I can’t take it anymore.
Don’t worry, nothing drastic is going to happen :)  And I’m not telling you so you’ll feel sorry for me.   I just had to tell someone to relieve some of the anxiety.
So I’m going to take some time off.  I need to focus more on my own inner peace, getting things done around the house and re-grouping.  I hope to be back when I’m feeling better, I’m just not sure when that will be.  Until then, thanks so much to all of you for all the friendship & support you’ve given me throughout the years.  It has meant so much more to me than you’ll ever know!  And if you are still here to read when I get back I will welcome you with a heart full of gladness.
But just so you know, I DO sometimes still have fun!  Check out my first hand-dyed yarn:
Plymouth Happy Feet - Hand-dyed with Paas Easter Egg Dyes
Best wishes & hope to see you soon,

P.S. – Want to do something nice AND get free yarn? Ravelry members check out this thread. I’m already on my second pair of kids’ mittens!


Thinning The Nest: Thursday Number 8

Week 8:  Knitting from stash & some random use it up & toss it out!

I’m sitting here procrastinating, eating Dove chocolate hearts, and attempting to take the deep philosophical quotes inside the wrappers to heart.  I kind of liked these two: “Discover how much your heart can hold” and “Hold hands firmly, hearts gently.”  Well, it was only four chocolates, but I still found a way to stretch that out into at least 45 minutes of not writing this post.  Ugh.  I’m just not feeling it.  I should be energized considering I just spent a fantastic 2 days in the the big city of Seattle with my super knitty pal Troy (who has a new blog by the way!) and no mommy duties for the entire trip.  But more on that later.

Instead, I’m feeling exhausted.  I have a teething two year old who isn’t sleeping well (thus, I am not sleeping well either), a kitchen that magically regenerates four dirty dishes for every one that I load into the dishwasher, and a bank account that seems to do the opposite.  My skin is freaking out in all sorts of unexpected ways and I live in my sweats.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t showered in nearly 48 hours.  SO gross.

I’ve been dreading today’s post.  What to say?  I know I’ve made progress, but it doesn’t seem substantial.  For instance, this past week I finished a hat from a kit purchased at Sock Summit last July (about 135 yds total), and a pair of slippers from some stash gifted to me by Troy in August of 2008 (about 3 skeins used up).  That fits right into my plans to use up, sell, donate, or throw out something once a week.  But without a picture, some good solid evidence, it seems pointless.  Pictures are harder and harder to come by these days.  I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for a photo of the raw yarn instead of the finished project for a little while until I can get something snapped.

Hazel Knits Artisan Sock Yarn

Though I feel this week’s offering for Thinning The Nest seems a little insubstantial, I do notice the effect that 8 weeks of this has had on my behavior.  Last Friday I decided I’d had enough of the needles I’ve been using for my Beekeeper’s Quilt.  The rubber coating on the cables had slipped away from the join where the needle and the cable meet, and a little gap had developed that snagged my yarn on nearly every round of knitting.  I put up with this for a good week or so in my typical grin-and-bear-it fashion.  But then I decided that my Beekeeper’s Quilt is one of the only projects that I work on daily, it makes me happy, and it just wasn’t worth it to me to continue knitting with crappy needles.  So I bought a new set of needles and deep-sixed the old ones.  That is a true departure for me.  Normally I would have either continued to knit with them until they finally broke entirely, feeling miserable the whole time, or I would have just tucked them away thinking I could use them again for something else.  But I decided, no, they just couldn’t be redeemed.  And just because they weren’t completely and totally busted, doesn’t mean they didn’t need to be trashed.  There is no more room in my house for things that don’t earn their keep.

Ha.  I’d like to think I’m that tough!  But ssshhhh….. don’t tell Knittymunchkin….  I’m a big old pushover :)

I still have a lot of work to do.  But I have to remember that it’s not going to happen overnight.  Each small thing I accomplish is a step towards the organized life I want to achieve.  Just keep moving forward.


Thinning The Nest: Thursday Number 4

Week 4:  A Big Down Comforter!
This week was simple.  There were no massive emotional fireworks, no sentimental mooning around, no digging deep in order to find the courage to purge.  It was all about simplicity.
Several years ago, when my Father-in-Law worked for Tempur-Pedic, we were able to get a fantastic deal on a California King sized adjustable Tempur-Pedic bed.  We call it our “old people” bed because we have a remote that adjusts the head and feet up and down to whatever setting you desire; just like that bed on TV that allows the “old people” to get in and out more easily.  I should be embarrassed to have an “old person” bed.  Except that it kicks ass.  And I can say I have a remote for my bed.  Conjures up all kinds of crazy images, huh?  It does have a massage feature…..
Anyway, the thing about Tempur-Pedic beds is that they run hot.  I figured that would be a blessing considering my feet never seem to thaw out all winter long and I have been known to wear sweatshirts on a 70 degree summer afternoon.  In a word, I’m cold all the time.  That first winter we had it we put on the big down comforter and snuggled up underneath the covers, only to find it really did run hot and we were sweltering.  Being too hot at night is nearly as miserable as being too cold.  So we bought a new comforter that was a bit lighter and pretty soon I slept like Goldilocks – just right.  But I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the old comforter.  Maybe we’d have a crushing winter hurricane and need to huddle under it for warmth someday.  You never know.  But after several years of never once needing that other, heavier, down comforter, I knew it was over.  This week we gifted it to my Mother-in-Law and her husband.  Things have been a bit tight for them this winter and I know they are keeping the thermostat low to save on energy bills.  They were thrilled to get it and we were thrilled to help out.  Now everyone is snuggly warm at night!  If only every week could be this easy……

Little Red Bicycle Mini-Skein Club - December 2011

Here’s a little eye-candy just to remind you that yes, this is still primarily (supposed to be) a knitting blog.  I know there’s been a scarcity on that subject here lately and I feel pretty bad about that.  I’m still finding it really difficult to blog even the once a week I promised to do at this point, so Thinning The Nest seems to get all the focus.  But I hope that can change sometime in the coming months.  I’ve been knitting, really I have!  I just need to find some time to talk about it.  Don’t give up on me yet!  I’ll get there, I know I will :)


Thinning The Nest: Thursday Number 3

Week 3: A bunch of random crap!
The last week has been amazingly, stressfully busy.  We decided to re-finance our home and that means some dude has to come through here, take a bunch of photos, peer through the mess of toddler toys, paraphernalia of half a dozen hobbies, wear and tear of 12 years and 2.5 dogs, and ultimately decide if we just lost our pants on a $550 appraisal or if we will be saving ourselves $200 a month.  Can you say panic attack?  This is probably a non-issue for normal people.  You know, people with style, no yarn hoarder in residence, and a housekeeper.  But man, I cannot wait until this is over and done with!  Tequila is ready and waiting.  Wait, I’d better have one of those right now….
With all that in mind, I’m afraid this week’s Thinning The Nest is a bit weak.  Yes we did throw out about 30 lbs. of recyclables (hooray for trash day coinciding with the clean out!), and about 6 huge garbage bags of stuff, but I don’t feel right counting that since it was mostly R. Darling’s stuff.  Though we are partners in crime in getting our act together this year, I know that I need to make more of an effort than I have so far and my goal in getting rid of one thing each week was to force myself to come to terms with my own piles of crap.
So this week I did get rid of a couple small things.  I chucked out a spent glass candle holder from Bath & Body Works that I was ridiculously planning to repurpose into either a pencil cup or a nifty vase.  It was super cute; orange with white etched out dots.  I have a thing for stuff with dots on it.  But when you used the candle up 3 years ago and the stupid candle holder is still waiting around to be cleaned out and put to a good use, you start to think it’s probably never going to happen.  I grew up in a family that never threw anything out.  “I can use that for (insert super useful household item here)”, was our motto.  Most of the time that never happened.  So I’m giving it up, even if it’s like pulling teeth to throw something out that’s useful.  I doubt I’ll even miss it.  I just had to go through the exercise of telling myself that, and really believing it, before I could let go.

I also tossed out my trusty BedBug.  I bought this at a Crap Craft Fair in Pullman when I used to live there.  It kept my toes toasty on many a cold, snowy night, with R. Darling 385 miles away.  I thought at one point that I’d sew oodles of these and make lots of money and live in my pajamas in a house on the beach for the rest of my life.  Or at least pay my bills.  And then the Jack Russell met the BedBug.  And they did not mix.  The Jack (unsurprisingly) won the tussle and poor BedBug has some pretty deep teeth marks to show for the encounter.  I admit.  It was hard to let go.  I absolutely do not know why.  Maybe it just reminded me of my life in Pullman?  This must be where those psychologists they always employ on “Hoarders” come in to tell me that I am certifiably nutso.  Whatever the reason I couldn’t let go, it is now on its way to the garbage can.  Any minute now.  No really.  Right.Now.

Another one of my (many) issues with stashing things is that I absolutely cannot bring myself to use things that are “too nice”.  This includes yarn, beauty products, clothing, sometimes even food.  I don’t know what I’m waiting for.  I’m not getting any younger.  I could die tomorrow.  And then that something that’s “too nice” for every day would just be wasted.  I need to remind myself that if I really love something, chances are I can buy more of it if I really want to.  But I’ll never know how nice (or not nice – I’ve been sadly surprised on this before) something is if I never use it.  Some things definitely have an expiration.
One of the things I loved about the Hazel Knits Sock Club was the fantastic swag Wendee always included in her packages.  A couple years back she included this Bee Bar from Honey House Naturals.  It has been sitting in my nightstand for a really long time now and I just couldn’t bring myself to use it.  I’m not much of a lotion person when it comes to my hands.  I hate that goopy greasy feeling and I wash my hands about a billion and one times a day so it seems sort of pointless.  But wintertime always wreaks havoc on my hands and I find myself needing to at least apply it before bed to stave off real damage.  This week that hasn’t been enough.  So I brought the Bee Bar into the kitchen and every once in a while, would put a little across my rough, cracked knuckles.  It wasn’t greasy and smelled fantastic.  Knittymunchkin kept holding his knuckles out for some too – it was super cute :)  I’m happy I’m finally using this!  It’s a great product, it’s helping me, and I’m using it up.  Win, Win, Win!
Oh and the yarn?  That was a superbly generous, wonderfully kind gifty from my ever-thoughtful friend Amy!  She heard I was working on The Beekeeper’s Quilt and offered to send me some scraps.  Only these aren’t scraps, these are like quarter skeins or more!  Thanks so much Amy!  I can’t wait to use them :)  And a huge thank you to Betty too for so kindly sending me some lovely yarn to add to my blanket (whole, new skeins!)!  I am so excited to have little reminders of each of you to add to my project.  And once again, I am blessed to belong to a community of knitters.  You are all the best!


Thinning The Nest: Thursday Number 2

This week’s Thinning The Nest is sponsored by: Knittymunchkin!
I found out last summer that one of my former co-workers is expecting a little boy in March (almost exactly 2 years after Knittymunchkin’s original due date – if he wasn’t in such a hurry to arrive 5 weeks early!).  We were given three HUGE rubbermaid totes full of baby clothes by one of R. Darling’s co-workers when Knittymunchkin was born, and I remember how amazingly helpful that was for us and how grateful we were to receive it.  Though R. Darling does well with his job, money always seems to be tight with a newborn in the house.  So I thought, what better way to pay some of that good karma forward, than to do this for someone else.  Many of the things that Knittymunchkin has worn have been through several kids, lots of spills, and assorted newborn/toddler antics.  So there isn’t a whole lot that’s still in good shape.  But once I started collecting things I was happily surprised to see the pile of stuff I was able to get together for her.  Four giant bags of things, and more to come!  Technically these aren’t out of the house as of this Thursday, but they will be by tomorrow, so I’m counting this as my week’s accomplishment.

Because nothing says "Welcome Baby!" like stuff in a Harley bag!


Week 2:  Four big bags of baby things!  Done!

I read an article in Better Homes & Gardens last year about this family that tried to see how little garbage they could produce in one year.  At the end of one year they had perhaps a small handful of detritus to show for themselves.  Impressed, I read the article wondering how they could possibly do this.  There were some interesting tips in there, and a lot of things that I didn’t really think I could feasibly do myself without a lot of inconvenience.  I know that sounds crappy, but there it is.  Sometimes convenience just trumps saving the planet (if only for a moment or two).  But one of the things that really struck a chord with me was their suggestion to take photos of sentimental items instead of actually saving those things and having them take up space. Most especially when you just store the objects rather than using them frequently.  One of my biggest problems with clutter is that I am too damn sentimental.  I want to keep everything.  And I mean everything.  I have letters that I received from pen pals in middle school for crap’s sake!  So I like this idea.  And I think it would work for most things.

Knittymunchkin at 20 months

I thought it would work here.  I mean, there’s the photo.  I don’t need the sweatshirt, right?  But when it came to this face, and my memory of this day, I had a moment of weakness.  That photo can’t show me just how tiny this little bit of fleece was when I look back at it 20 years from now, when my son is 6’4″ like his daddy and this day is a distant memory.  So I’m afraid to say that little sweatshirt was rescued from today’s Thinning The Nest stash.  Let’s face it.  I’m weak.  But I’ve still got some time to let go.  If I can :)