The good news (other than the fact that I'm actually doing a blog post after a HUGE absence) is that I was able to carve out enough time to make Easter dresses for my girls this year...hooray! It had been a couple of years since that happened.
Hazel picked out her fabric almost all by herself, and despite her solemn expression in the photo above, she was very excited about her new dress.
There we go, that's better. Can you believe how long her hair is getting?
I find it quite interesting that Hazel, despite being an absolute shoe fanatic (she has more shoes than anyone in the family, I think) is nearly ALWAYS barefoot! Inside, outside, upside down, she loves to go around without shoes. I need to remember that fact the next time she is BEGGING and PLEADING for a new pair of darling footwear that she just can't live without, even if they are on clearance or inexpensive to begin with. Should we vote on how long you think I'll hold strong to that resolve? Perhaps not. If little girl's shoes weren't so stinkin' cute it would make things easier.
Eliza's dress is made from Amy Butler fabric that I absolutely adore, and I actually bought the fabric to make myself a dress a long time ago...but once I came to grips with the acknowledgement that I'm not going to have time to sew for myself for a very long time, I figured Eliza might as well enjoy it in the form of a new Easter dress. These kids are growing so fast it's hard to keep their closets stocked!
This dress, with its clean lines, was deceptively time-consuming - partly because of the 10 inches I had to add to 7 pieces of flared skirting (it was a store-bought pattern) to make it the length she wanted, and partly because I nearly ruined the entire thing due to a cutting error. The skirt had taken much more yardage than anticipated due to the added length (10 inches extending the length of flared pieces is much different than if the skirt were straight) and I had JUST enough fabric to cut the bodice front with the gorgeous plant image centered in the middle. And then I got distracted and grabbed the pattern piece for the bodice BACK instead. Usually I always double check before I start cutting, but this time I didn't.
I can't believe I didn't notice that the pattern piece didn't have the "fold here" arrows...but my mind was in la-la-land and so I cut out a nice big, single back piece (rather than 2 separate pieces that a back would have been) and I had no other fabric scraps big enough to make a bodice front. This was on the Friday before Easter, so no time to order new fabric. The contours of a bodice front are much different than the back, but I had no choice but to simply cut a lower neckline (I should have made it even lower, but too late now!) and cut here and there to make the front and back fit together properly. Fortunately for me, she's still built like a little girl so the results weren't disastrous...just a little ill fitting around the neck and shoulders. Lesson learned on that one!
Here's another sewing project that I finally finished...one of my good friends from when I lived near DC had a baby - nearly a year ago - and I made these dresses for her darling little girl. It's about time, eh?
I don't like making clothes for newborns anyway - they grow out of them too fast!
It's so nice to have spring arrive! It's been unusually cold this past month, but at least we're not still getting snow like northern parts of the eastern US. I had planted tons of daffodils last fall, it's been wonderful to see them cheer up things up both inside and out.
These darling little mini daffodils brightened up our table for Easter dinner.
They're the sweetest little things...and only 6 inches high.
Another good news story is that my DIY chandelier is finally finished and installed!
It started out like this...a big brown light fixture on clearance from Home Depot.
I painted it silver, and then spent many hours putting together the crystal embellishments and beads that I had ordered on ebay.
I had to drill holes in the leaves on the arms, but for everywhere else I just juryrigged attachment locations using jewelry chain. The whole setup with the crystals is done like jewelry rather than the traditional connector rings usually used for crystal, but hey - at least I didn't have to drill a million holes everywhere.
A slight improvement from its original brown-ness, yes?
Here's another makeover project I finished this past month. This $50 dresser was badly dented, scratched, and chipped. I filled and patched everything I could, sanded it all down,
gave it a coat of primer and then painted it grey.
I tried dry-brushing Martha Stewart silver paint on it, but I wasn't happy with how splotchy it was.
So then I mixed various metallic paints and glazes together with some water to create a glaze that I brushed on all over the entire piece = a much better finish. This piece is in our bedroom, which I am still working on.
Ah, yes, our troublesome master bedroom! I ripped out the carpet (you can see where the partial walls were - and the carpet was not - hence the carpet removal) and installed engineered hardwood flooring. We had the partial walls removed because they made no sense and prevented us from putting a long dresser anywhere in the room.
This is the flooring that I had purchased a year ago, back when we thought we were going to build over the living room and create a studio space (that's the bad news...but more on that later). Anyway, we decided to use some of the flooring for the master bedroom instead, and so I spent a couple of days installing it and adding shoe molding around the baseboards.
I don't have any official "after" photos yet because the room's not finished, but here's a close-up of the floor = very gorgeous, but it sure makes any little string, lint, or dust show up! I'm glad I don't have dark wood like this all over my entire house...I'm not that good at keeping floors spotless!
So, as I alluded to earlier, we decided not to extend the balcony and add a floor above the living room in our house so that I could have a studio. It would have cost a bunch of money and we most likely would not have been able to recoup the cost when we sell the place because the real estate market is still terrible around here. That's the "small" bad news. Boo.
Are you ready for the Ugly?
This, my friends, is what happens when a builder doesn't use flashing where a deck meets the side of a house (and yes, it's illegal to not use flashing).
This is what happens when a dishonest person carves out what is already rotten (our house sat half-finished for 3 years before the bank took over and hired various contractors to finish it up and, in this case, cover up the damage) and fills the rotted void with pieces of pressure-treated wood to make it look normal and able to pass inspection.
This is what happens when a dishonest person knows there's a big problem and fills the rotted area around the doorjamb with a bunch of silicone to disguise the rot/reduce the leaking around the door.
We knew the door jambs of the french door were rotted, but the county inspectors and the private inspector we hired before we bought the place didn't know -or didn't inform us - how bad it truly was. When we hired a contractor to replace the doors, this is what he unearthed. Not only was there no flashing, but they had used normal OSB at the base of the house where it touched the deck. Another illegal, cost-cutting move that resulted in a bunch of rot.
Isn't it just lovely? Just a word of advice...never buy a home that has been abandoned and turned into a foreclosure in the middle of the building process!
We now have to rip off our entire 60 feet-long back deck, remove the siding, replace the rotten OSB with weatherproof material, replace the rotted beams between the foundation and the walls that the entire house sits on, then finish it properly with flashing and the siding.
I'm grateful that we hadn't already sunk a bunch of money into building the studio room, but I'm very upset that we now have to sink a bunch of money into repairing what should never have happened in the first place...especially to a "new" house! It has been very difficult (impossible) to verify who did what because of how many different people have worked on the house through the years. The original contractor is now out of business, and of course nobody is going to step forward to claim responsibility for anything at this point. We're not the type to sue anyone, but it sure would be nice to make the responsible party at least pay for the repairs!
The silver lining in all of this is that, since that wall is going to be all torn up anyway, I get to have more windows installed in the wall and the ridiculous corner fireplace was removed.
Steve worked very hard to carefully remove the sheetrock and the corner fireplace unit so that the new windows can be framed in.
Didn't he do a good job? He's also been doing all the electrical changes that needed to happen because of the way previous contractors did shortcuts in the corner where the fireplace was.
We're going to have a new fireplace on the main wall that is much less deep than the corner one. I'm going to do a rock surround for it and build a big beautiful mantel above it. Can't wait for that!
So there you have it, folks. Am I forgiven for not blogging for so long? As you can see, things have been rather crazy around here. Oh - and I didn't even mention the 2 weeks that I was completely floored because of the flu. I must not have ever truly had the flu before, because that was the absolute worse virus I have ever been through. Talk about feeling like I've been hit by a train a million times over. I'm nearly all better now, though, so things are looking up! Hopefully in a few weeks everything will be fixed and I can start finishing the interior of our house and have a bunch of pictures to share...wish me luck!