Mainly Mostly

Mainly Mostly

Pattern Making

Lately I’ve been trying to explore pattern making. I’m not quite “there” yet with a lot of the designs I’ve been playing with, but I think I’m getting it and it’s a nice blend of needing to be precise but also kind of willy-nilly sketching, which I kind of like. I am able to sit down and just doodle things and then later think about how they can be patterns. 

Something I’ve always struggled with in design is wanting to design pretty/nice/fun things just for the sake of it vs. designing things with some kind of direction—which often leads to just feeling like I don’t know where to go next if I suddenly don’t have this inspiration strike. I know I can’t always just depend on inspiration striking so it’s good to have a kind of exercise to bring ideas to the surface.

The bland-ish photo on the right is from our walk up Mt. Tabor. It is a fairly uninspiring photo, but I liked the little hatch-y lines. I spent some time this evening on the pattern to the left… I like it, but it’s missing some depth, I think. Sometimes the precision of the actual pattern-making makes my brain hurt (I’m often an “eye-baller” which doesn’t work in this situation) but it’s good discipline. 

This is kind of just a brain dump, but I’m enjoying the feeling of creating things that I’m interested and inspired to pursue more even if I’m not totally happy with it. It’s nice to feel like I want to keep moving forward and improving.

Some photos of some things

I don’t share much of everyday on here, but I’d like to, so I’m going to start. Sometimes house projects aren’t all that interesting, sometimes they are moving at a snail’s pace, and sometimes we haven’t worked on any at all. Since our lives are not fully consumed by house projects, I wanted to start sharing some of our everyday on here as well.

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I take way too many photos of Gladys but I just can’t help myself. Look at her jelly beans for paws!

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I had been wanting to make these after I saw them on A Beautiful Mess. These cookies are super easy and a quick chocolate fix but all too often, people make them with coconut which I am not a huge fan of. So I made these with just oatmeal. They were supposed to make it with Chris to work so they wouldn’t all be my responsibility, but alas…

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We are scheming a new direction for the Mainly Mostly shop, which is nice since up until now there really hasn’t been one. This was taken on a walk up Mt. Tabor for some inspiration. 

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I’ve been trying to plan more meals lately and, most importantly, to include more vegetables in those meals (since all I really want to eat is carbs and cheese and will if left completely to my own devices). This is yet another recipe I saw on A Beautiful Mess and it just looked really good. We went to one of the Asian markets relatively close to our neighborhood for the spring roll wrappers and discovered Jack fruit there. Which are insane looking, I might add. All spiky and about the size of a seeded watermelon. I really wanted to try some but I have no clue what makes for a good Jack fruit so maybe another day. 

I’ve also snagged some recipes from Smitten Kitchen this week. We made this pepper pizza which smelled so amazing when it was cooking but tasted a little less impressive than I was hoping for. I blame the mozzarella I used. We also made this penne with potatoes and arugula which Chris said was a tiny bit dry, but I had seconds of because I love potatoes. I will also admit I made Tater Tot Casserole. Not from anyone’s blog but because I was feeling nostalgic. It was delicious, but more on the salty, cheesy side of things.

I’m actually feeling really excited for Fall and having some cooler weather (it’s been in the 90’s still this week which just seems kind of crazy for the ol’ PNW) and I’ve really been wanting to start making more soup! But then I remember what the weather is actually like and I have to think of something else. Any other veggie-heavy but not quite Fall-like recipes and tips would be much appreciated. 

Backyard Update

We have lots of goals for our backyard, most of them as of yet unattained. However, a big goal was to have more seating and a table so we could enjoy being outside more this summer, and we did make that dream come true. 

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We picked this little buddy up at IKEA. And by picked up, I mean had delivered. We intended on getting this much smaller table that most likely would have fit in our tiny Jetta trunk, but after taking a closer look, we didn’t really feel like we would be super happy with it. It was really narrow so only plates would fit, not any additional food if we had people over.

So, after hanging out at IKEA for a while, you know, like you do, we decided upon this table. It is definitely more solid and much wider and provides a decent amount more seating since we are able to use all sides. But all that width would not fit in our trunk, so we had to opt for delivery.

We bought the table too late in the day for same-day delivery, and it was the weekend, so we had to wait until Monday for it, but once the delivery guys figured out where our house actually was, they did take it up the steps and into the backyard for us, so that was nice. 

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I’m still thinking about the zones of seating on the cement slab, but it’s pretty great to be able to eat our meals outside with plates on a table instead of your lap. The Arth’s came shortly after we set it up and it was really nice to hang out with everyone in the backyard and enjoy the Oregon summer heat!

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Shortly after I took this photo of my little succulents and sprouting catnip, it got really hot here. I’m pretty bad about checking on my plants that are outside and they totally got burned. I think only two succulents made it through and my catnip definitely died, unfortunately. The catnip makes me really sad because it held on from last year only to die a sad, hot death because I wanted it to grow in that pot in the death-ray instead of where it was all happy in the shade.

Oh, but the best part: 

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The liiiiiiiights!

The Lightswitch

This is a little bit dumb, but this is one of my favorite things I’ve done around the house lately. I literally can’t stop staring at it. 

The light switch in our dining room has had no face plate on it for at least a full year. After removing all that wallpaper, the bottom half of the box for the light switch stuck out from the wall about a quarter inch so none of the face plates we tried would sit flush with the wall. 

The real solution is, I guess, having a hole cut in the wall and the actual box set back farther, but that is not happening in the near future, so I made a little frame-y thing!

It’s kind of a little weird step up, but it’s a million times better than not having a face plate at all. 

Hooray!

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Call Me Mr. Flintstone

Cuz I can make your bed rock. But mostly because we got a new bed. So it’s time for a quick bedroom update. Is it sad that those lyrics are the first thing to come to my mind when thinking for a title here?

It seems like I just did a bedroom update so either that means we are super busy getting things together or I’m just really slow about posting. Probably the latter…

Here’s the recent before:

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And the after:

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What can I say about this… the bed has been pretty great so far. It was a little funny to put together but not difficult. 

Something that I’m learning — rooms and stuff look totally normal and fine in real life and then you take a photo of it and it looks super crazy. Like those pillows. I guess the trick to styling is using pillows that maybe you don’t actually sleep on. So there wouldn’t be the unevenness of my incredibly flat pillow with Chris’ weirdly small but always fluffy memory foam thing. Another weird thing is that the gray quilt from IKEA is like, crazy-huge. Also, who am I kidding, that bed is never made anyway.

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And how ‘bout that light, am I right? Fits so much better. 

I didn’t include the back wall of our bedroom because it’s really not finished AND because it’s hard to photograph much in a small room with just an iPhone. 

What’s left in this room? Well, I’d really like to address those curtains. They just need to have pleated something-or-others up there. And we are not really on the hunt currently for a new dresser, but at some point we will get more serious about that. Our dark MALM dresser is functional it just isn’t what I imagine… but there are more pressing things to deal with than a currently-functional-dresser. There are probably other things that we could do in here, in fact, I know there are, but I need to get pumped about some other projects now.

Gladys and Friends

Gladys is not an outside cat. That’s how she maintains her good looks. She’s probably the best looking cat I know, as you can see.

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But outside, we have a couple o’ cats I’d like to introduce. These cats are not super friendly, in fact, they are in a turf war over our yard. From what I can tell, the following cats are feral. The one cat I’ve seen with a collar, I have yet to get a picture of.

First up, the king of the backyard, “Rat Face”. So named for his ratty looking face. He is the dominate cat so far. I think when I took this picture he was in a silent standoff with another cat. Excuse the blur, it was taken through the kitchen window at a distance. Every time I try and go outside when he’s in the yard, he gets spooked.

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And this is Rat Face’s favorite napping spot. We usually find him there when it’s really sunny out. As the sun shifts, he slowly moves his nap spot with it. 

He almost looks cute here. Little napping kitten.

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Take a look at this ratty face, though. And those jowls. He kind of has sad eyebrows, too. Probably he is sad that he has no family and that he always has to be on the run. This photo was taken from the basement. We have a large egress window that all the leaves build up in at the bottom. Little Rat Face makes himself a nice little nest down there. I was rummaging around in the basement when I heard him jump out and there he stood. In all his Rat Face glory.

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This cute little gray tortoise-shell tabby is “Nermal” because obviously, he looks like Nermal. He is my favorite because he is the cutest. And that’s how I choose who I love.

He tries to hang out in the yard, but Rat Face always wins. He is easily spooked by people—this is definitely the best photo I’ve gotten of him. Then I got greedy and tried opening the screen door and, of course, he ran off.

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I wish Nermal was friendly. I’d try and adopt him. He’s so cute.

I know it sounded like there were many, many cats when in fact there are only two. Two that I have photos of. We have also come in contact with a super friendly tabby cat when gardening out front and Rat Face’s arch nemesis, the Orange Cat With a Collar. Someday I’ll catch them all in action. 

Groutin’

The following series of photos is pretty un-thrilling and even a little disgusting. Our poor little blue bathroom was way overdue for some new grout. There is only so much scrubbing you can do when the more you scrub, the more old grout comes out of the cracks. We had begun patching holes with bits of caulking, but I was discovering new ones every week. I was having nightmares of rotting walls so I figured I needed to do something about it. 

I found a lot of tutorials on the internet that are really quite helpful. (I referred to this one over and over again.) If you are looking for step-by-step instructions, I wouldn’t recommend this post, however, but it might help give you the confidence you need to push through. If I can do it, it’s not that scary.  

Let’s take a look at what we started with, shall we? A couple weeks after moving in, we dug out a bunch of super nasty black caulk and replaced it. We also cleaned and sealed the grout and it was looking okay for awhile, but the grout never really wanted to be clean and I suppose the mildew-y grout that surrounded the new caulk wasn’t helping much. Over the last year, my re-caulk job was looking pretty sad. 

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Some of the paint was starting to peel and crack as well. Here is an example of grout holes plugged with caulk. 

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I also had some peeling and cracking paint on this little bottom corner. Once I started removing the caulk and the peeling paint, these little tiles were barely hanging on. After all the stress, they did end up falling off. In all honesty, there were some other tiles that felt like they could easily pop off but I powered through. I really just want this bathroom to last us a couple more years until we can really fix it up. Fingers crossed.

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Another sign of just how icky things were: we took off the shower knob to reveal a blackish ring around where it was.
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After removing the caulk, I finally got to scraping out old grout. Not a fun job.

I did buy the little grout-removing attachment for my Dremel. It’s not terribly expensive and can really be helpful, however, these grout lines are incredibly small. I used it as much as I could but there were definitely spots that were just too thin. I was afraid I was going to kill my Dremel by forcing it through tile, so I wasn’t able to use it as much as I would have liked. 

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I used a utility knife for most of it. I had bought an extra pack of blades for it before beginning this project and I’m glad I did because I definitely went through them. They grab really well at first but they get dull pretty fast. 

Since you don’t actually need to get 100% of the grout out, I just tried to get out as much as possible without making myself crazy. Most of it looked like this:

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Ugh. After all that, my hands were incredibly sore and felt like little claw-hands. But then it was time to grout. 

I really have never grouted before, save a couple random mosaic craft projects. I opted to go for a premixed grout since mixing the dry stuff sounded like a big fat mess to me. I used this Simple Grout in Bright White. 

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Picking the grout was kind of hard since everyone has something to say about it—dries too fast, dries too slow, too runny, too hard— basically, grouting is a mess, regardless. This was really hard for me to grasp. It just felt really wasteful dropping it all over the place as I was trying to scrape it into the cracks. I like to be really neat so I was a little slow at first. 

As I made my way around, I got bolder. Maybe because my arms were really sore and I cared less and less about the mess I was making. 

The other thing I was worried about was washing too much off or not enough. The first section, I wiped away a lot. I ended up going back over it because I was really worried I wiped too much off. But on the other hand, I was really worried I wasn’t washing enough of the residue off fast enough because the reviews all said this stuff dried really fast. 

In the end, I left about this much on the walls. 

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And ended up scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing it off. I think it took me the next week just scrubbing tiles, bit by bit. It might not have been so bad but after all the grout scraping, the grouting, and the scrubbing, my hands were really, really sore.

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I made it my mission to at least scrub off the haze from the tiles that would have any caulk on them. Then I was able to caulk all the edges. And it really did make a huge difference.
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You can see, in the bottom left-hand corner where the little tiles came off. I ended up patching the wall there with some joint compound and sticking the tiles back on after it all dried. 

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I’m not sure if this is how one would normally fix this, but it seems to be working. I didn’t have any thin-set, and it’s such a small area, I just used some of this biz. It says it works on tile, so I was sold. 

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Look at ‘em all ready to be grouted and caulked!

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The instructions I used say that this task can basically be completed in a weekend and you can be showering by Monday. Well, I’m getting better at assuming that everything I take on will take at least twice as long, so I wasn’t so naive as to think the whole thing would be completely finished in two days. The bulk of it was finished on the weekend, but since you have to wait to caulk for 24 hours once the grout is on, that took longer, and then the little tiles took extra time… I think we were officially back in this shower by Thursday of that week. In the meantime we used the downstairs shower. Which is a whole other story, but I was sure glad we had it while we were messing with this one.

Outside Update

I haven’t talked about the yard around our house at all. We actually have done stuff, but sometimes I have a hard time sharing things about if I don’t quite feel like I’ve done enough or if it doesn’t quite turn out how I want it. I know that is silly because we HAVE done a lot of work.

We spent a lot of time clearing out the beds in the back yard last year— things were looking much neater—however, we really didn’t keep up with it over the fall/winter, though, so I kind of feel like we are spending a lot of time clearing things out again this year. Hopefully we will be able to move on to the fun parts soon.

So because we have made progress and in an effort to make myself feel like things are being accomplished, I dug up some before and afters of our back and front yard. This proves we have been working. 

Here is the back left side bed last year. It was looking relatively unorganized. The plastic edge pieces really had to go. Most of them were busting out of place anyway. Plus, they are ugly.

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Here is the same bed after cleaning it up and putting down a bunch of mulch. New mulch just makes everything look better. 

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At this point this year, it’s not quite that neat looking… But I do have flamingos!

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Here is a look at the bed at the back of back yard. Those little white flowers are crazy to rip out since they just spread as the grow. 

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This photo is at a bit of a weird angle to compare, but if you look close, we ripped out pretty much everything out of the back bed other than the shrubs (their day will come…). You can even kind of see one last pile of yard debris waiting to be hauled off.

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And now for my favorites. At the front of our house, in the section between the sidewalk and the curb (what the heck is the word for that?), we had these two sagebrush-beasts. They were planted in buried pots. And they were really quite massive. Their only redeeming quality is that they smell like Montana. 

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When my parents came for Easter last year, they helped us rip them out. Bless their hearts. Don’t ask me why they wanted to spend their vacay time doing that. It was hard work. 

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The planters were buried super deep and the dirt in them was rock hard. Here is my dad assessing the situation. 

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After all their hard work, we were able to plant some new grasses! We also put down a temporary walkway from the sidewalk to the curb with some large flat rocks we have, you know, just lying around. 

Sadly, the two Cordyline (the purple-ish plants) died over the winter. We really didn’t do the research to find out that these little guys cannot survive very chilly weather so over the snowy (it really did snow!) winter, they didn’t stand a chance. 

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Since the photo above, we’ve planted more grasses, a lot of them have grown quite a bit, and we put down some landscaping fabric and mulch. The weeds were getting really crazy without it and I know I don’t have it in me to be out there weeding all the time. 

So far this year, we’ve done more clearing out in the back and have lots of plans. I’m pretty intent on being able to enjoy our back yard this year more than we were able to last year. We’ll see house it goes. 

On that note, here is a lovely photo of our Dogwood in the back as it was starting to bloom. I really love that tree.

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And here is a photo of Chris Arth. Yard work is hard. It truly is.

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Wallpaper Wonderland

It only took about a year to get around to the kitchen wallpaper. At one point when we were looking at houses, I remember our realtor saying something like, “I always caution people not to start peeling any loose wallpaper because you just never know when you’ll get around to it.” And I was all, “yeah… that’s smart”. I was really thinking that people that don’t get around to peeling gross wallpaper off right away are fools. So, of course, when I saw all the peel-y edges, I peeled. 

It basically looked like the picture below for over a year. Which, I suppose considering the hot 80’s “Navajo” print all over everything, it wasn’t really taking away from the overall appearance. Obviously, I’m not as awesome as I thought I would be.

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When I finally did get around to peeling the rest of it, I discovered two things:

1. Clearly, the wallpaper was super dirty and nasty as can be seen by the photo below. Compare the gross brown to the basically white part that had been covered by the awesome border. 

2. The border was covering a large section that had old wallpaper that was then painted over. Just to make it trickier.

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The old wallpaper in this house has been fun to unearth. This kitchen wallpaper is a little busy-crazy, but it’s just so much better made than the 80’s stuff. It has GOLD. And I think it was all silk-screened. 

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The good news was that, as opposed to the wallpaper we’ve done so far, this actually did have paint underneath. So after the first layer, it wasn’t so bad. As far as wallpaper goes… It’s amazing how much easier it is to take off when it’s not applied directly to sheetrock.

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The paint was chipping pretty good underneath it all. We actually ended up getting a lead test. I started getting paranoid. 

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With the kitchen wallpaper out of the picture, all that’s left is the bathroom. Oh, and the back bedroom that has wallpaper with TEXTURE over it… ay yi yi. 

Origami Shmorigami

I made a new light for our bedroom. 

Our house is full of lights like this: 

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And they are so hideous. I mean, I guess it’s not as bad as the fluorescent shop-light in the kitchen… but still. 

Someday, I will have one of these or something similar…

But for now, I came up with a cheap substitute. 

Some of you may recall some origami tutorials flooding the internet as of late. Like this one. (It is not in English, but I mostly just used the super helpful step-by-step photos she posted.) Also, there are paper shades in existence. Put two and two together, and bam. New light. On and off.

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We bought a pendant kit from Home Depot for 15 doll hairs and the paper I used is from my intaglio printmaking class I took in college so I paid for it at one time, but not this time. 

I tried testing out the folding with cheap-o paper first to save my nice paper, but it did not work at all. The paper that I did use is super thick (don’t remember what kind) water-color type stuff that worked really well after all the scoring. It takes a little bit of work to get the folds going, but once I caught on, it was relatively easy. 

I’m relatively happy with it. I did have to put together two pieces to make the full circle and where they overlap, when the light is on, it looks darker… which I know is silly, but it kind of annoys me. 

And here is the room as it stands:

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Oh, those curtains. I never even ironed them because they were never supposed to be up. I decided I hate the IKEA curtain thing… I really would like to do some pleated ones of some sort so until then, I guess we are just using these. 

The lamps and the nightstands are here in all their glory. The bed is kinda weird and low in comparison, but we’ll figure that out eventually. The awesome wall-hanging is from the Alameda Flea and it’s supposedly of Dogwood. Which is charming because we have a Dogwood tree in the back yard.