Domestic domination

Office makeover

Big news–I’ve accepted a new job! Also big news–I’ll be working entirely from home. My new company has no corporate offices; everyone works from home. As part of the transition, I’ve decided to redecorate my home office.

The room is an odd shape that has two little sort of nooks–I’ve been using one for reading and one for my desk. As part of the redesign, I’ve decided to swap them. Some of the drivers behind that decision:

  • Currently, you can see my desk from the hallway. If I move the desk to a place where I can’t see it every time I pass the room, I’m less likely to think about work when I’m not working. It’s a subtle attempt to maintain boundaries or work/life balance.
  • Better lighting. I currently sit by a window on the north side of the house–the other window in my office faces west and will give me more light during the day.
  • Less distracting wall space behind my head. I’ll be spending a lot of time in Skype meetings and video calls and want to make sure that I have a neutral background so the folks I’m talking to can focus on what I’m saying, not trying to figure out what’s on the shelf behind me, or squinting at the window coming out of my head.
My three Petty girls - blonde, brunette, and redhead.

You can see the color here behind my three Petty girls – it’s a deep eggplant, tough to photograph.

The biggest decision right now: paint. I LOVE the purple that I’ve had for years, but it’s just too dark. I want something lighter, brighter, and vivid; something that will energize me. Over the last few years, I’ve grown attached to vibrant greeny-blues. The kind of blues you’d find in vintage bathroom tile or a ’50s Chevy. Something kind of aqua but not too pastel, preferably with a tantalizing tropical sounding name.

Last night I stopped on the way home to collect some paint chips. It’s a competition between Behr’s Jamaican Sea and Bali Bliss right now. I dig the color directly underneath Jamaican Sea on the sample card, Blue Jewel, but I’m concerned that it would be too dark–not a significant improvement over the purple.

Here they are–I’m completely open to feedback. Tell me what you think.

I'm leaning toward Jamaican Sea.

I’m leaning toward Jamaican Sea.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

People always ask me if I’m excited for St. Patrick’s Day. Um… not really. I’m not Irish. I dislike beer, and I can’t STAND boiled dinner. But for those of you who enjoy this holiday, I wish you well – and here’s a classic boiled dinner recipe from the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook to prove it. Love that it’s “New England” boiled dinner. Not “Irish.” Yet still part of the holiday tradition.

From the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.

From the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.

I love that Ms. Crocker does not advise WHICH herbs and seasonings to add. Choose at your own discretion. Also, “remove scum” is excellent advice in general, not just during cooking.

I raise a glass of the finest Irish whiskey to you, as that is the only way I will be able to choke down that nasty flaccid cabbage.

Lock and key necklace

I made this necklace.

I made this necklace.

I love old locks and keys… I’ve got random keys to god knows what tucked away in drawers in my office. I keep meaning to do something cool with them. But I haven’t.

But when my mom was up a few weekends ago, we went to the craft store to pick up a frame, and then Mom needed a chain for a pendant, and I found myself perusing the steampunk DIY jewelery section. Where these keys and the lock-plates were on sale. I also found the chain in a nice matching metal. So my mother, who has the utmost faith that I can do things I know NOTHING about, bought them for me.

My engineer husband had pliers and the few other things I needed to assemble this necklace. I kept moving things around and changing the length/spacing on things to get it to fall right, but I’m pleased with the result. For under an hour of my time and less than $10, I think it came out well!

Triumphant return to knitting

Some of my knit projects.

Once upon a time, I knit like mad. I loved knitting and cranked out hats and scarves and a few ill-fitting tanks like nobody’s business. One one of my early dates with my husband, I knit a hat for my mother while he worked the sound board for a metal show in Fitchburg, Mass. There’s nothing like a set of big old metal #10 needles to let the jerk at the pool table know that he DOES have to say “excuse me” when he’s about to poke me with the cue while making his shot.

Anyway, I had some awesome knitting mentors and loved the heck out of it.

But then, something happened. My hands started to hurt. Shooting pain across the back of them whenever I knit. Which takes the fun right out of a leisure activity, let me tell you. The doctor tested me for all kinds of things ranging from arthritis to lupus and came up with squat. Which did nothing to solve the problem. I had a job that I hated and a bunch of other stressful things going on in my life, and I’ve always been someone whose emotional stress menifests physically, so it’s quite possible that my psychological sense that my hands were tied resulted in a physical reminder. Who knows. That was several years ago.

Since then, I’ve gotten a fabulous new job that I love and resolved many of my other stressors.

And then I saw Tasha’s (bygumbygolly) blog post about fingerless gloves. I LOVE knitting gloves. But I wanted to make sure my hands cound handle knitting again. My neighbor is pregnant and due fairly soon…and I have some adorable patterns for baby booties. Which are small and knit up quickly, so even if my hands DID hurt, I could still probably suffer through them.

I went to knit up my test bootie and something wonderful happened. No pain. Even after about an hour of knitting. A few days later, I knit while my car got inspected – another hour or so at the needles. And again, no pain. I’m thrilled. I joined ravelry. I ordered the actual yarn for the booties. I started sifting through pattern books to find things I want to make.  I started planning projects for the yarns left in my stash. I reorganized my office to fit in my grandmother’s sewing machine, which also opens up a nice space for knitting. I’m really, really excited.

Stay tuned for all kinds of vintage-inspired knitting projects.

Plaid, plaid, plaid

I have long been a fan of plaid. Especially plaid skirts. But this morning I realized that none of the plaid skirts in my wardrobe are PENCIL skirts, and I am all about the pencil skirt.

I need to remedy this situation.

I have it in my head (probably erroneously) that sewing is easy.

I have never sewed on a machine, ever. But I’ve got my grandmother’s Singer from 1951, complete with manual, and I’ve looked at multiple pencil skirts and I keep thinking, it can’t be that hard. Measure, cut, pin, stitch. Right? We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve been on a pinning frenzy.

Like this gorgeous number from Lipstick & Curls:

plaid pencil skirt

Gorgeous. Everything about this is gorgeous.

I’m also admiring many of Jessica from Chronically Vintage’s lovely plaid dresses, though I suspect those are considerably harder to make. Another one. Off to trim my bangs, go vote, and look for plaid pencil skirts.


I’m back!

Yes, I have been woefully absent from the blog lately.

But I have a good reason – I’ve been job-searching. My efforts paid off and I landed a new position – I’ll start November 19, the week of Thanksgiving. I’m really excited. And nervous. And all those other things that go with major life transitions.

Speaking of transitions, my family is selling off the homestead. My grandfather built the house in 1949. My mom and her siblings gew up there, then my mother and I moved back in with my grandmother in 1985 after my folks got divorced, my grandfather died, and it made sense for us to combine households. It’s sad, but at the same time, preparing to sell the house means I get to go through all kinds of things and explore the memories attached to them.

And I get my grandmother’s sewing machine. It’s a Singer from 1951, complete with the instruction manual. Do I have any idea how to sew? No. But I’m looking forward to learning. To help me along the journey, I have a wonderful set of books that my mother found in her attic: a series of 12 books that made up a dressmaking course offered by the Women’s Institue of Domestic Arts and Sciences. They’ve got very clear instructions, as well as great photos and illustrations:

essential stitches

Table of contents from “First Steps in Dressmaking”


Illustrations demonstrating how to make patterns.

I have no idea when I’ll find time to start learning to sew, but it’s probably a good winter activity. I’m sure I’ll have tons of sewing disasters to share in this space soon.