We set out to find a cozy, three bedroom house in Portland (preferred) or South Portland, with a small but usable yard space. We weren’t afraid of a cosmetic fixer-upper, but wanted a structurally sound house. We both love all things old and all things character — moldings, built-ins, original details, and an overall cozy feel. So here were our three top choices…
It’s always amazing to be featured anywhere on the Offbeat Empire! Check out our “House Hunters” story on Offbeat Home, and see two houses that almost-were :)
A year. It’s been a year. 365 days since that first awful day, and the many that followed. It’s sort of hard to wrap my head around it all.
As we recently navigated the process of buying our house, I found myself reflecting a lot on what the past year has entailed. I have learned oh-so-many life lessons in a very short amount of time. About myself, about my relationship, and about what’s important. Some of what I learned was great, and a lot of it was just plain hard. (And none of it did I ever plan to share on my blog- which was supposed to be all about inane craftiness!)
I’ve always struggled to accept the answer, “you’ll just have to wait and see.” Apparently I am a do-er. A fix-er. And I reeeeeeeeeeally hate that answer. Unfortunately, it seems as you get older, and your life gets more complicated in the worldly sense, things become a lot more gray. Most of the time, you can’t force a faster outcome. Even when you desperately want to.
I am trying my damndest to just float within the current, trusting it’ll take me where I’m going. Sometimes it even works (for like a day!) That sounds lame, but it’s progress.
Since we closed on the house, I have this tremendous feeling of being unburdened by leaving our apartment. As Shawn put it, I’ve had a “beef” with this apartment since the second we found out our baby was a tumor. We moved into this space with the expectation of starting our family there. The second we had that appointment, the front room went from being “the baby’s room” to just “the other room.” I choke over what to call it every. damn. time.
I never decorated, or became attached to the space. It was never home to me. It was just where our stuff lived.
The irises in front of the apartment bloomed again recently, and I was irrationally angry at them. I had thought they were a good omen when we were moving. I felt like they tricked me. I should have realized that the rain was a more apt omen than my father’s favorite flower.
Releasing this apartment into the ether, and moving into a space without expectation of our life in that space feels incredibly freeing. Our house is the perfect size for us- just us. If we’re lucky enough to fill it with a kid, or two (hey, let’s not get ambitious) fantastic. If not, I will have the best mutha f*ing craft room evah. And Shawn will have his kick ass game room. And we will be fine.
The unknowns for us aren’t going away any time soon. I’m down a whole fallopian tube thanks to the beast known as endometriosis, and while the odds aren’t entirely bleak, they certainly aren’t on our side. Then again, who knows really. We certainly have no say in the matter either way. And kicking and screaming, I’m attempting to float along in some semblance of serenity. (At least as much serenity as you can have while trying to makeover an entire house!)
Huge thank yous to everyone for your love and support over the last year. Every tiny shred of sanity I’ve retained has been a direct result of you all helping me work through the crazy. You are deeply, deeply, appreciated :)
Came home to a bag full of gifted bearded irises to plant at the house, yay!!!
So, this happened yesterday. My head is still spinning! Full write up coming soon! #homeowners
How can it be so close?! PF14 baby! So excited to participate this year :)
We’re taking to the streets!!!
Get a sneak peek of PortFringe 2014 when local actors, puppeteers, musicians, and comedians take to the streets during the June 6th First Friday Art Walk.
With a portion of Congress Street closed to car traffic, and less than a month until the PortFringe…
Auntie duty with Miss Vinka (who had nothing but smiles for me), and some killer couponing action = one fantastic Saturday :) I may or may not (but totally do) now have 2-3 years stock of my favorite deodorant in the house. This couponing thing could turn into a problem…
Monster Pants = Success! They fit! Apparently the 4th time was the charm :)
(Not So Extreme) Couponing
In an effort to continue eeking out as much savings as we can in our house hunt, I’ve decided to learn how to strategically coupon. I’m not interested in clearing any shelves, or having a massive stockpile in my house, but my hope is that used carefully, we can make a dent in our monthly budget and add to our savings.
Today was my inaugural run, and I am pretty happy with how it went! There were two great deals at CVS (the Aveeno moisturizer and the Speed Stick Deodorant) so I decided to try out CVS for my first run. The goal was to match manufacturer coupons, CVS sales, store coupons, and getting as many Extrabucks as I could. I planned to use the Extrabucks on granola bars (which I also had coupons for,) because we spend an arm and a leg on them on a weekly basis.
I wanted to save at least 50% overall, and I did better than that. I made a couple of mistakes (apparently if you have Extrabucks, and don’t spend the whole amount, they don’t scan), but all in all, it was a good haul and a good learning experience!
- 1 Aveeno Positively Radiant Moisturizer w/SPF
- 1 Aveeno Positively Radiant Tinted Moisturizer
- 1 Schick Quattro Women’s Razor
- 4 Schick Quattro Refill Cartridges
- 3 Lady Speed Stick Deodorants
- 9 Clif Bar Granola Bars
- 3 Clif Builder Bars
- 6 Uber Larabars
- 3 Larabars
- 3 boxes of Kellog’s cereal
Total before coupons: $115.60
Total Out of Pocket Spent: $47.71 (would have been $39.21 with 5 less granola bars if I had done it correctly)
Percentage saved overall: 59% or $67.89
To put it in perspective, I would normally have spent $37 on just the moisturizers. Add in the deodorants, and that would have put me over what I spent out of pocket today. So it’s like getting all of the granola bars, the cereal, the razor, and the razor cartridges for free!
More Monster Pants! This time for Miss V. I believe this is the 5th incarnation of these pants, they’d better fit! What better project to work on while recovering from abdominal surgery? It’s sort of nice to be a knitting bump on a log for a while, but I’m ready to be back up and at-em. Should be back to the grind tomorrow :)
Saturday night art night.
Red Sox Varsity Sweater and “Green Monster Butt” longies for my sister in law’s baby shower. I’m not much of a knitter, and this is my first time making a sweater or completed longies. There are lots of mistakes, and I think the two are different sizes, but overall I’m proud of how they came out.
I wish things weren’t so hard right now, and that I could have gone. There is nothing on the planet that makes you feel worse than letting down someone you love, especially when times are supposed to be happy. I hope the love that was knit into these fibers shows that I do care, very much, even though I’m not able to be present right now.
Patterns (free through Ravelry)
How to Support a Loved One Coping with Pregnancy Loss
Like most of the writing I’ve done where I’ve specifically discussed my miscarriage, I have hemmed and hawed over whether to publish this post for months now. As much as I bristle at the societal “cone of silence” we’ve built around this topic, it still feels very uncomfortable to bring it up in a purposeful way.
I’m not exactly sure why this is. Perhaps it’s because it’s still so raw. Perhaps it’s because I’m acutely aware that I’m supposed to be “over it” by now. Perhaps it’s because I’m surrounded by pregnant friends and family, which is amplified by the in-your-face nature of social media.
At any rate, I want to channel this frustration into something constructive. So today’s post is the first of a two-parter- how you can support someone you love if they experience a pregnancy loss. In a follow up post, I’ll address some of the ways you can be kind and gentle if you experience a loss yourself (something I’m still striving to practice.)
How to Give Support to a Loved One (and What Not to Say)
1. A miscarriage is a death in the family. Respond accordingly.
For some reason, our society doesn’t view pregnancy loss as a death. I didn’t view it that way for a long time, even after it happened to me. I only began to wrap my head around that concept when I wasn’t “over it” within a few months, as I fully expected to be. I think I would have been much less confused by my feelings if having a grieving process was expected and talked about.
Support your loved one in the same way you would if they lost a close family member, because that is exactly what has happened. Call them, send a card, bring food, check in on them to see how they are doing on a regular basis. Miscarriages are incredibly isolating, and many people aren’t open about what has happened. If you are close enough to be “in the know,” take that as a compliment of your friendship, and be there for that person now, and just as importantly, in the months to come.
2. Skip the cheery anecdotes (or, what not to say.)
"It just wasn’t your time." or "It will happen when the time is right."
"You’re young- you can always try again."
"If it doesn’t work out, just adopt!"
"It wasn’t a real baby anyway."
"Things happen for a reason," or "It was God’s will."
"There comes a time when you just have to move on."
Each of the things above were said to me by people I love and who love me dearly. None of them were meant in anything but a supportive way- sort of, “hey, look on the bright side!” Unfortunately, none of these things are helpful when you are grieving, and they all hurt for different reasons.
If you can’t think of anything more specific, just say, “I’m so sorry” or “I’m here for you.” Check in with your loved one on a regular basis, and ask how they are doing. It opens up a chance for them to talk about it if they feel comfortable doing so. And if they do open up and talk, just listen. No need to counsel, make recommendations, or add cheery anecdotes.
Also, please don’t ever tell them “it’s time to move on.” Everyone grieves differently, and everyone has a different timeline. There is enough societal pressure to “get over it” quickly. Trust me when I say your loved one is keenly aware of that pressure.
DIY Cloth Pad Tutorial
I have had several requests from friends to share how I sew reusable cloth menstrual pads, so I figured a tutorial was in order! This tutorial is meant for folks who don’t have access to a serger, and want to sew pads that are turned-and-topstitched.
What you’ll need:
- PUL- a waterproof fabric that can be purchased online or at a fabric store.
- Cotton Velour- I like to use recycled track suits, just be sure the polyester content is 30% or LESS (so 70% or more is cotton.)
- Absorbent Fabric- this can be a thin recycled towel, or other cotton/bamboo fabric. I’m using heavy bamboo fleece in this tutorial. You’ll have to use your own discretion with how many layers to use, based on how thick your fabric is, and how heavy your flow is.
- Decorative Fabric- can be cotton, poly, fleece- whatever! Just remember that the thicker the fabric you use, the bulkier the pad will be.
- Polyester thread, a thin ballpoint needle (size 9 or 11), and snaps (plastic if you have a set of pliers or a snap press, or metal if you need to hand-sew them.)
- A Pattern- many free ones can be found online. I used this great pattern from Jan Andrea, that I altered to make the wings fatter (I find it easier to sew, since my layers never match up perfectly.) Be sure to adjust your print settings so it prints at 100%.
Ready, set, sew! First, gather your materials. (I swear, whenever I want to do a tutorial, it’s a dark, gray day. I hate artificial light photos, but it is what it is, le sigh.)
When you print your pattern, you’ll want to do it twice. Cut one copy for the whole pad pattern, this will be used with your cotton velour, PUL, and decorative fabric. The other will be for the soaker (cut around the dotted lines), that you’ll use for your absorbent fabric. This greatly reduces bulk when you turn and topstitch.
Cut out all of your fabric pieces.
First, we’ll be attaching the absorbent soaker piece to the cotton velour top. Center the absorbent fabric in the cotton velour, with fuzzy sides down. Attach the pieces together by zig-zagging down the center of the absorbent pad, then straight stitch all the way around the outside, close to the edge.
Trim any excess absorbent fabric so it’s cropped close to the outside seam.
Next, we’ll sandwich and pin all of the fabric together to assemble the pad. I definitely recommend pinning with this step. You’re working with 4+ layers, and it can be tough to get them all to stay put.
The sandwich should go- PUL on bottom, sticky side UP, decorative fabric next, good side face UP, then cotton velour, fuzzy side DOWN.
Pin the layers together. I usually can get away with just 3 pins down the center line, and two in the wings, but when I first started I used a lot more. Your pin holes will be steamed shut when you wash/dry these on hot to seal your sewing holes.
Top stitch all of the layers together. On the curved ends, I trace a path about 1/8” away from the absorbent fabric. Leave about 1.5” un-sewn so the pad can be turned right-side-out. Try not to catch the absorbent fabric in this seam, it will help reduce the bulk of your pad. I thin the wings in this step (see wing seams below.)
Trim the excess fabric so you have about 1/4” around your seam. Flip the pad right side out. I find a chopstick helpful to poke out the wings and square those corners.
Fold the edges of your turning hole in towards each other, and pin closed. Topstitch around the whole pad about 1/8” from the edge, sewing your turning hole as you go. I try to trace the seams that are already there on the rounded edges.
I like to sew a seam to hold the wings down and stop the layers from separating in the wash (can be seen in the above photo to the left of the seam from the absorbent pad.)
The final step is to add your snaps. I like to put two “female” snaps on mine, because sometimes I find the second setting to be helpful. Wash and dry your new creation on hot to seal your sewing/pin holes, and voila- your very own reusable pad!
Progress on my version of the Smoochie Monsterpants for Miss Vinka! Still not thrilled with my short rows, and the gusset is a mess (kitchener stitch is not my friend!), but since this is the fourth time I’ve attempted these, I’m calling it good!