Fabric Shelf Covers

I store my fabric in the living room. I know that light can be really detrimental to fabric, and it would be better stored away from light, but I like being able to see all of the fabric. (Had I seen Gertie’s sewing room, I would have completely stolen her idea. I could still get the boxes and use them on my shelves, but at this point, that’s not going to happen.)

I decided to fashion some curtains to cover three sides of my shelves. The backs are uncovered and light can still leak in through the corners and edges, but I am pretty happy with how things turned out!

I used up 5 yards of a heavy weight cotton fabric for this, as well as some cotton ribbon. The fabric buckles a bit in the middle. I need more ribbon to make more ties down the front, but I had already spent an obscene amount on the trim, and my measuring twice cutting once had failed somehow. So I’d yanked out the side seams of the center panels (that’s why the corners aren’t perfect). It took forever to do that, and I was frustrated. I decided perfect was the enemy of good and put the curtains up.

I like how much lighter the shelves feel with the covers on them!

Tall Shelf Curtains

Short Shelf Curtains

The Hassles of Living on a Popular Street

So this takes the cake for misdelivered mail….

We live on a street with a very common American street name. When we bought this place, the survey company actually tried to survey our address on Common American Avenue instead of Street. And since that property is much larger, they almost overcharged us quite a bit of money.

We’ve had problems with our mail ever since we moved in. One neighbor’s surname is surprisingly close to mine, so I always get his mail. Some kid nine doors down? We get his magazines. A few weeks ago, we a package from a doctor’s office intended for a neighbor three blocks down. I’ve talked to every mailman about it, but nothing changes. So I’m not surprised to get the wrong mail, but…

Last week, we got a letter in the mail from our exact address, except the city was West Des Moines, Iowa. Enclosed was my $20 gift card from Angie’s List (headquartered in Indianapolis) and a handwritten note on the Angie’s List form letter:

Your name + street address showed through the envelope window, but not the city and state. So we rec’d it instead–thus we’re forwarding to you.
Regards from Iowa.

I might just send them a postcard back, thanking them for forwarding my mail all the way from Iowa!

Charming House and Thoughts on Unpacking

A year ago today, we found our house.

Everyone is right: Owning a house is a huge responsibility. But being in control of when things get done, whether or not they get done, and the quality with which they’re done? Freedom. And not being able to hear our neighbors? Delightful.

I say this as we’re tripping over two lawn mowers in the basement since one was a lemon that I need to return. I say this as we’re considering getting new gutters because [mature trees + narrow gutters + maple seeds = gutters that need to be cleaned constantly]. I say this as we are looking at some social shopping site deals to get an electrician to hardwire our exterior outlets since running an extension cord 70′ across the basement makes no sense.

Now I wonder if the basement will actually be entirely unpacked before our closing anniversary of July 9th. I am feeling a bit doubtful.

Last night I found another large Rubbermaid bin full of fabric in the basement. Sure, this is great, because I found some fabric that I remembered missing. (Most of the time, when I unpacked my fabric, it was a great surprise to be reminded of what I had.) But I truly have no space on my shelves for the fabric.

I haven’t even started to unpack the yarn. There is nowhere to put it. Since I haven’t been knitting much lately, and since our basement is dry, I think the yarn is fine down there.

A few weeks ago at work, I found a reusable tote from a local yarn store in my mailbox. It had no name or note, and my class and I turned into detectives until we figured out who put the bag in my box. She is a new knitter and I might go through my yarn and find some stuff to give to her.

Since moving out of my parents’ house at 18, I have never taken this long to unpack. I was sure I was not going to be one of those people who has boxes left in the basement.

But it’s so easy to just chuck things in the basement…

Like a lemon lawn mower.

Steady March: Spring Chores

When we toured our house, one of the planks on the steps was a little jiggly. Over time, it became loose, and a few days ago I tripped over it and it came off entirely.

I had images of getting sued or breaking my ankle, so we continued the Steady March this weekend with some minor work outside.

The wood supports on the steps had cracked. We secured them with a little glue and then used 3″ deck screws to secure the step again. The previous owner used 1 1/2″ screws. The steps are an inch thick. They make “deck screws” for a reason…

Missing Step



Good Man worked on cutting some ivy and clearing some drains while I worked on digging things out.

In our driveway, there was a large hunk of concrete with Air Jordan in it. It was about three feet by a foot and a half. Mom said I wouldn’t be able to get it out without using a sledgehammer, but she didn’t realize how thin the chunk was. I removed some smaller pieces (you can see the space they occupied) and then used the shovel to dig the large piece out.

The yellow spray paint marks the gas line, and Good Man was terrified I’d hit it, but I knew it wasn’t that close to the surface and everything worked out fine.

Air Jordan


Ready for the Trash

In the front yard we had several large pieces of slate. They didn’t start anywhere or go anywhere, so I removed them. Below you only see half of the slate. I found several more pieces that were completely overgrown and took those out, too. I put them all in the backyard until I decide what to do with them.

Overgrown Slate

Freeing the Slate

Spring Flowers

It turned really hot last week, and the aircon was out at work. Teaching reading in a 94 F room? Yeah, not so successful.

A few days ago we finally got some rain, and the next day our yard exploded. Perhaps (regular commenter) Jonathan knows what some of these plants are?

I know violets are considered a weed, but I find them much less obnoxious than the ivy growing in our yard and happily welcome them in our yard.

Wild Violets

Confederate Violets (?)

I thought we had onion grass growing, but then these translucent white flowers appeared. They are so pretty!

White Flowers

I thought we would get a lot of daffodils (or something!) from the early bulbs that sprang out of the ground several months ago, but we got exactly one flower from them.

The rest of the stands are flowerless. I know our house was put up for sale in late March of last year. They mowed the lawn for the photos, and I think they might have “blinded” the bulbs for this year. I’ll see what happens next year, since I haven’t mowed them down yet.

Single Flower


When Mom came for a visit, she bought us a very Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree-like Japanese Maple. We planted it behind the big rock in our front yard.

Good Man and I also bought a two-in-one Asian pear tree and planted it in the backyard.

Trees are definitely an exercise in patience. I was afraid neither had survived our whacky winder, but then we got a spell of hot weather and some rain!


Japanese Maple

Asian Pear Tree

The established trees are also starting to bloom.


Dogwood Flowers

Storm Coming Up

Mother Comes for a Visit: Police and Waitress Adventures

“When will you be home?”

I crammed my box of sewing things in my trunk and juggled my phone. “Um, I don’t know, I’m leaving my class now.”

“The police were here. And they scared my mom.”



So Mother went home today. The visit was…interesting.

Last week Good Man and I both had vacation, but this week Mother was home alone. We took her to the Korean spa and left her there for the day while we worked (which she loved), and she did a Korean tour agency’s tour of Luray Caverns and DC on Wednesday (which she also enjoyed).

The real adventure came Thursday afternoon, though!

After Good Man called to tell Mother he was on his way home, Mother saw the police digging through our mailbox. She peeked at them through the windows, and became very nervous. She decided to go out and see what they needed

When she left the house, she locked herself out.

Mother managed to explain to the officers that it was her son and daughter-in-law’s house and that she had locked herself out. (I was really proud of her when I heard she did it in English.)

The officers, in turn, tried to break into our home using a credit card.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

The credit card break in was a failure (luckily, I think?) and our neighbor across the way saw Mother. She came over and asked which language Mother spoke. She then called several friends until she got one who was able to interpret for her.

When the neighbor discovered what was going on, she invited Mother in, but Mother was too nervous. (Ir probably didn’t help that the neighbor has some very gorgeous, very large Huskies!) So the neighbor gave her a lawn chair and some blankets so she could keep warm while she waited.

She wasn’t locked out for too long, and Good Man soon came home.

When I arrived home after my sewing class, it was well after dark and I called the police to see why they were digging in my mailbox.

Mother had gone for a walk during the day, but not wanting to get lost, she had walked up and down our street several times. She was afraid that she had looked suspicious and wanted to be sure she hadn’t gotten us in trouble.

I wanted to make sure the police were real, since we had a weird incident a few months ago where a woman knocked on the door and accused us of having her husband’s iPhone.

They were real police, and they had been digging through our mailbox. They were looking for a name, but weren’t sure of the address.

I don’t know why they didn’t use computers.


When Good Man got home, he and Mother went out to look for boxed juice. She wanted to give the neighbor a thank-you gift, but wasn’t able to find the bottles of juice she wanted. Instead, she bought a whole lot of…grapes.

After school yesterday, Mother and I walked to the neighbor’s house so we could thank her.

“In Korea, you give food. Usually you give a box of bottled juice, but we couldn’t find that. So we bought these,” I said, holding out the bag of grapes.

My neighbor peeked in the bag and exclaimed, “I love grapes!”

We spoke for a few more minutes, and Good Man got home and thanked her as well. Finally, the three of us headed out for a last dinner together.


At dinner, our waitress was amazing! It was super busy, but she was always friendly, attentive without being annoying, and really bubbly.

When the manager asked how our dinner was, I complimented our waitress. When the waitress brought us our check, I told her I had talked to her manager about her. She laughed and thanked us, and then asked what we were doing during the weekend.

I told her Mother was leaving and she wished her a good trip. Good Man was away from the table and I interpreted. Mother told me to tell the waitress that she was great.

I did, and the waitress continued her friendly banter and then, out of nowhere, Mother patted the server’s butt.

My hands shot across the table to grab her wrists. “Mother, you can’t do that!” I said in Korean. I turned to the waitress and apologized.

Mother put her hands together as if she was praying and apologized. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“Older Korean women, when they like younger people, they sometimes swat your butt,” I said, the words tumbling out of my mouth. “I am so sorry!”

The waitress laughed and said it was OK. Good Man arrived at the table. “Your mom just patted her ass.”

“I’m sorry.”

I started laughing at the absurdity of the situation. I looked at our waitress and chuckled. “She knew me for years before she patted my butt. She must really like you!”

We tipped her twenty-five percent.

Fabric Stash: Ridiculous

So. In our old place, all of my fabric and yarn was in large Rubbermaid (and Rubbermaid knock-off) tubs.

But we decided to turn the living room into a sewing room, so now I have room for fabric, thanks to Ivar. (The yarn, however, can wait.)

So over the course of several days, I slowly dragged the fabric upstairs. I put it on the shelves in whatever order it came out of the bin.

This was the first time I saw my fabric out in one place at one time and…wow.

Shelf One

Shelf Two

These shelves are large. They are 33″ wide and 20″ deep. The books on the lower two shelves in the first picture? They are double stacked. The patterns are in the boxes on the top (now in plastic hanging file folders).

In the second picture, the top shelf is already starting to buckle (maximum weight 99 lbs). The cabinet is filled with remnants and smaller pieces of fabric, as well as pressing hams, my iron, and the like.

There is a wire cabinet to the left that is stuffed with smaller remnants used for quilting.

When I finally unpacked everything , I looked over all of this fabric.

I have so much nice fabric. I have beautiful wools. I have amazing silks. I have a lot of “travel fabric” that I bought in Korea, or that Good Man picked up in Japan. I have gifted fabric. And silks! Did I mention the silks?

I am so afraid to cut into the “good” fabric because my sewing isn’t good enough.

But if I never sew with the silks, I’ll never learn to sew the silks! And all of the money will have been wasted.

One of the last things I unpacked was this little bit of fabric. It’s sixteen inches of fabric I bought from Joann’s remnants bin for $2.88 minus my employee discount when I worked there. It is gold or purple depending on how the light hits it.

Sixteen Inches

And then I saw the date.


I have been carrying this around for eleven years. That has been three moves in Atlanta, a broken engagement, a whole expat experience in South Korea, a lasting engagement, a wedding, and a new house ago.

I have been carrying sixteen inches of fabric around through all of that? For what??

So I decided a few things.

First, my next six garments will be sewn from stash fabric. I can buy lining, interfacing, and notions if needed, but it’s preferable to pull from the stash if possible.

Second, I *will* cut into that silk before the end of year!

Maybe We Do Need Another Bathroom…

The caulking on the tub was gross when we moved in. There was a huge crack along the bottom of the cenenter panel on the tub surround, and it was splitting along one of the vertical seams, too. We knew we’d have to recaulk the tub and planned to do so in September.

And then I fractured my tailbone.

So it got put off.

But we knew we needed to fix it sooner than later because water was getting behind the surround.

Finally, last week I decided that it was time to caulk the tub since it was a long weekend.

We had friends over for dinner on Saturday, and I had a baby shower to attend on Sunday. So I started scraping the caulk off on Sunday, expecting to be able to caulk it Monday.

That…is not what happened.

The caulk was extremely difficult to remove. The tub surround is not level on any axis. And why did the previous owner make such a wide line of caulk…oh, because he was hiding a bunch of minor, hairline cracks. Oooh, and now that whole center panel is coming loose, and there appears to be mildew behind the surround (luckily, not much!).


What should have been a rather short job turned into scraping the caulk, stop drilling the minor cracks, spraying an anti-mold agent behind the center panel, re-gluing the center panel into place, squeezing a tiny amount of adhesive into the stop drill holes, and finally, recaulking the tub.

And of course, every step needed drying time or curing time, so we were without a shower for nearly a week. (Thank goodness for friends who let us use their showers, and a working utility sink in the basement!)

While I was fixing it, Good Man teased me, calling me anti-Midas and Pandora. But when he tried to make the caulk look better, and made it a lot worse, he finally admitted that I was a good “handywoman.”

So the caulk job? It’s ugly. No doubt about it. I choose to put some of the blame on the tub surround. But that’s OK! It is watertight! (And yes, we’ll see how long this lasts…)

Aesthetics: 0. Function: 1.

I will put that in the win column right now.

I get annoyed by the unexpected problems that pop up with this house, but I do realize that they could be a lot, lot worse! And I feel like I’m getting pretty good at figuring out how to solve the problems, too, which is increasing my confidence.

It also increases my respect for people who work in the trades, while at the same time making me realize that my previous landlords were even lazier than I thought!