Challenge update – 6 month mark

I originally started this challenge in the summer of 2009 BUT I have had a lot of changes which affected where I would be almost three years from now. Since the boyfriend is long gone there were a lot of  “goals” that were abandoned. I still have yet to come up with 101 tasks but I am more than halfway there and will be working on them some more!

The Mission:Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:Tasks must be specific (i.e., little to no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (i.e., represent some amount of work on my part).

Start Date: April 15, 2010

End Date: January 2013

Completed: 30!! as of October 24, 2010

Home: (24)

  • Refinish my 1940’s craft cabinet in a vintage black walnut tone DONE! September 2010 But in white paint with original oil rubbed brass hardware. The wood was too damaged to restore with my budget.
  • Stain headboard – Decided the headboard did not go with my new style direction so I put it in storage July 2010
  • Paint side tables DONE! July 2010 Two were painted white for the bedroom and two were painted black with walnut stained tops for the living room
  • Refinish dinette set – Status Check July 2010 primer is on
  • Sew chair back covers for chairs – Decided that I like the 1960’s charm of the chairs and have now embraced it.
  • Sew placemats DONE! September 2010
  • Repair current bookcases DONE! August 2010
  • Fix and/or discard broken holiday decorations. Donate unused decorations
  • Donate clothing and blankets no longer used DONE! October 2010
  • Go through books and donate as many as possible DONE! August 2010
  • Find an organized way to store music, load favorite music selections onto the computer for long term storage
  • Replace dinnerware and silverware with comparable quality sets DONE! February 2010
  • Invest in a quality set of hard anodized aluminum non-stick cookware
  • Fix bathroom floor and lay down new tile DONE! July 2010
  • Sew new shower curtain
  • Paint bathroom Peridot green DONE! July 2010
  • Refinish bathroom accessories to match new style (paint wicker, wood and metal items, dye rugs) DONE! July 2010
  • Steam Clean carpets DONE! July 2010
  • Paint or stain coffee table DONE! July 2010 stained dark walnut
  • Paint or stain entertainment center
  • Buy new comforter set DONE! May 2010
  • Buy 600 thread count sheets
  • Replace mattress pad/topper
  • New bathroom towels

Travel: (11)

  • Have the Stitchy, Witchy, Bitchy Week in New Hampshire at the Condo DONE! July 2010
  • Finish the second half of the Freedom Trail in Boston
  • Have a picnic lunch at Quincy National Park in Quincy, MA
  • Visit Washington D.C.
  • Go back to ABC Stitch Therapy in Grantham, NH DONE! July 2010
  • Go back to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY
  • Visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia
  • Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and see the Boston Bruins play the Maple Leafs IN Toronto
  • Visit DisneyWorld
  • Go on a road trip
  • Take Mom to bingo

Hobbies: (28)

  • Complete my maternal ancestry documentation (paternal is already done!)
  • Adhere to regular backups of digital photos to cd-rom
  • Finish scrapbooking the past year and half of my life
  • Regularly print and scrapbook photos and/or mementos
  • See the Detroit Red Wings play the Boston Bruins in Boston. Have tickets for Feb 2011 game – Thanks Dad!
  • See the Toronto Maple Leafs play the Boston Bruins in Boston. This will complete my goal of seeing all of the Original Six hockey teams in action (All games against the Boston Bruins: Montreal Canadiens April 19, 2008, Chicago Blackhawks March 7, 2009 New York Rangers April 4, 2009)
  • Complete Marilyn Monroe cross stitch for framing
  • Start and complete Mirabilia’s Circle of Friends Started July 2010
  • Subscribe to Cross Stitch Collection magazine
  • Attend a cross stitch retreat DONE! October 2010
  • Create a better storage system for crafts DONE! September 2010
  • Paint Queen of Cups box DONE! May 2010
  • Paint The Fool tarot box DONE! May 2010
  • Attempt thread crochet again
  • Make a needlebook (TW Dragon) started March 2010
  • Design a matching bead scissor fob
  • Finish scrap granny-square blanket
  • CAL 6″ yellow scarf
  • Take a sewing class
  • Sew scrap bags for crafting DONE! October 2010
  • Go through Gramma’s craft boxes DONE! October 2010
  • Discard old paints that are not salvageable; make room for Gramma’s paints DONE! July 2010
  • Make Fortune cookie “favors”
  • Make Scissor fobs DONE! September 2010
  • New embroidery scissor investment DONE! September 2010
  • Crochet blanket for Alexander DONE! March 2010
  • Crochet blanket for Andreas DONE! March 2010
  • Crochet green car coat sweater

Health: (8)

  • Adopt the glycemic diet back into my life again
  • EA Active 3x week
  • Start Pilates cycles again
  • Begin walking regularly
  • Buy a bicycle and helmet
  • New glasses DONE! February 2010
  • New contacts DONE! February 2010
  • Buy Polarized/UV protection sunglasses

Finances/Work: (10)

  • Begin a “House Down Payment” savings account – contribute a minimum per week to it
  • Find a new place to live for July 2011
  • Learn more abut mortgages and purchasing a house and research any programs that can benefit me
  • Attend a Homebuyer Education Class
  • Convert all paper statements to paperless
  • Find an organized way to file important documents and bills; Use a ledger method to track payments and account number details for paperless items
  • Update resume
  • Follow the “Smile and cash my check” edict from my employer until I can’t take it anymore Working on it October 2010
  • Learn Crystal Reports
  • Stick to a moderate Christmas spending plan

Personal: (14)

  • Visit Mom’s Knitting Group again
  • Find a Book Club
  • Find (or start) a cross stitching group to go to DONE! August 2010
  • Complete the 50 books in a year challenge
  • Get car inspected
  • Replace front tires DONE! September 2010
  • Repair front fender on car
  • Have car detailed inside and out DONE! January 2010
  • Buy myself a Coach bag
  • Invest in new crystals DONE! March 2010
  • Find a new tarot book DONE! March 2010
  • Look into hair straightener treatment DONE! June 2010 Not going to do it! Formaldehyde! yuck!
  • Try to grow out natural nails
  • Attend a class for personal or emotional development (maybe another self-hypnosis class)
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Curtain Complete

Having finished painting the dining room area in my apartment – including the baseboards and windows – I turned my attention towards the one large window on that wall.

Since I live in an apartment, half of the wall belongs to the dining room (with the window) and the other half to the living room (with a sliding glass door). I used the same paint color for the living room, kitchen and dining area to help unify things and make it seem bigger.

I used a beautiful True Value paint color called Del Rio (satin interior latex). It is a green toned gray/blue.I thought I would help make the spaces distinct by using different colored fabrics and accessories. I stumbled upon a pretty fabric last year in Jo-Ann Fabric’s and have been drooling over it ever since! It went on sale (it is normally $10 a yard) so I scooped up 2 yards!! It is Modern Heart from Legacy Studio.

I sewed up a simple “scarf” and used curtain clips to hang the valance. I was even lucky enough to find the curtain clips on clearance! They are the best thing for the simple home sewer like me. You just clip the rings on the fabric and Voila! you have a curtain!

I hung the rod about 6 inches over the top edge of the window and extended the rod 3 inches past the window on either side. This makes the room feel larger by showing more sunlight and tricking the eye as to ceiling height.

When I emptied out part of my sewing basket to get to today’s project, my assistant was at the ready to lend a helping paw.

Dumpster Diva

One evening in early January I turned into the parking lot of my apartment building and something caught my eye. I swiveled my head towards the dumpster to get a better look. Stacked in front of the dumpster were two wooden dining chairs – Captain chairs – the kind with the arms on them.

I quickly parked my car and briskly walked to the dumpster to pick up someone else’s trash.

I was super-psyched. I had a nice farm style dining room table but only one slightly wobbly Windsor chair left. The other chairs were broken in some rather colorful, X-rated ways and I never set aside the money to replace them.

Now I had two chairs! whoo-hoo!!! And the chairs were in great condition!

They cleaned up nice and I debated about what to do with them to refinish them. Then about three weeks later I was in my Dad’s truck on the way to a hockey game. It was freezing and pouring rain. As Dad drove past the dumpster on our way out I shrieked in delight and starting yelling stop the truck!!

There next to the dumpster were two more of the same chair! These two were side chairs since they had no arms but they were a matched set with the two I already had “acquired”. My Dad braved the cold, stinging rain and rescued the chairs for me. I set them to dry on some towels in the living room and hoped they weren’t too damaged from the rain.

My hopes were wrong and there was a lot of damaged to the rain chairs. The wood was splitting and was grey with water damage. After experimenting with some stain I realized that I would not be able to make the four chairs match.

Paint was my only alternative.

After a large amount of wood glue, wood filler, sandpaper and primer I have 4 matching chairs just ready for a French Country style paint treatment. I painted out the legs of my farmhouse table and stained the tabletop a dark walnut. A creamy white paint (as soon as I decide what kind) is all I need to finish off my “new” set.

While I was filling and sanding and gluing I noticed a label and date stamped on the underside of the seat. It was a Keller Furniture company chair made in June 1964. For some that would make it old and nasty. For me, it made it a set of retro wonderful chairs! I was very excited that I had mid-century furniture for free!

I am tempted to take a photo of the finished chairs and tape it to the dumpster with a note saying “Thank You” but I’m afraid that will deter people from throwing stuff away!!

Just this week someone threw out a large, sturdy wicker basket apparently because it had a dollar bill sized splash of white paint on it. No problem for me. I thinned out some white primer with water and now have a lovely white wicker basket that I am sewing a liner for. I can’t wait for the next treasure I rescue from the dumpster!

Decor Frenzy

I hate my apartment.

I moved in during the 4th of July holiday 10 years ago. The apartment was in a quiet, tree-lined community with all the things a single girl needs – trash and snow removal included in the rent and a 24 hour handy man on call.

Except, I was always handier than the handy man.

Phone calls about things wrong with the apartment were left unanswered. Over the years I just grew to accept that if I didn’t want the ceiling fan to be hanging by wires from the ceiling I would need to fix it myself. So when things went wrong; I fixed them.

Free carpet  steam cleaning was offered over the years but every time I requested it to be scheduled it never was. I started steam cleaning it myself and lugged my parent’s steam cleaner back and forth from my place to theirs.

The past five years I could have cared less about the shit hole of an apartment I was in because I was never home. Time was spent at boyfriends and friends homes instead of my own. This past year has brought some large changes to my life resulting in fewer friends and the ending of  an important romantic relationship.

I was unwilling to throw myself back into a social atmosphere so I began spending more and more time at home. Staring at my outdated and shabby looking apartment frustrated me.

 My bathroom floor was an embarrassment. It had significant peeling and lifting of the vinyl flooring. Poor workmanship resulted in 3 layers of flooring applied on top of each other and extended past the floor up the sides of the tub and the wall. Over the years the adhesive has separated from the subfloor and caused significant lift and curling. I wrote letters and made phone calls but nothing resulted from it.

That was the worst of it but the outdated fixtures were distracting. Everywhere I looked I was surrounded by brass and gold. All the while I longed to be surrounded by nickel and pewter.

My cream vinyl flooring in the bath and kitchen were nauseating. How I longed to lay my own ceramic tile! But alas, I am a renter, not a homeowner and can’t do such things.

So the apartment hunt began because I certainly didn’t have the funds for a down payment. In fact, I barely had the money for a security payment and moving expenses!

I searched for two months. Lots of phone calls and lots of emails. I spent two weeks in early May visiting rental units and negotiating with landlords.

The end result was everything was smaller and father away for the same price I was paying now. My lease was almost up and I had to make a decision. In the end, it was cheaper for me to stay where I was!

I decided to make some small changes – paint the bathroom and re-arrange the living room. Try to fix the bathroom floor and buy a new door knob or two.

Then a couple of weeks ago my oven died. The gas stovetop worked fine but I couldn’t get the oven to light. I called the rental office on Monday morning and explained the problem. Monday at 12:30pm I had a brand new stove and range hood with fan and light.

WOW! I have noticed some changes around the property that I associated with a change in management and this was proof. Things had changed. The last time I called about a problem with an appliance I was argued with. They made me feel like I was imagining the water pouring inside my living room from the a/c unit!

This was different. Inspired by my positive experience I decided to write a letter with the issues I was experiencing with the broken ceiling fan and bathroom floor.

To my surprise I received a phone call offering to reset my entire apartment. New light fixtures, new ceiling fan, new hardware for  cabinets and doors, new carpets, new ceramic tile in kitchen and bath, new granite bathroom vanity, new toilet, new countertops. WOW!

I said yes in a heartbeat. I have seen the remodeled apartments and they are gorgeous – exactly my taste aesthetic! Neutral browns and cool grey/blue tones with nickel hardware and dark woods.

Everything has been done except the carpets.  The new items gave me inspiration to change out my old tired color pallet (which was born out of monetary necessity a decade ago) for my pet decor design – Hollywood Glamour.

I adore the retro opulence of the 1930’s and 40’s. Pale blue/grey walls, dark woods and light furniture with clean lines. Crystal and mirrored accents and sophisticated wall art. *sigh* I love seeing it done on the design shows on HGTV.

And now, I actually had the opportunity to create this look in my own home!

The past month has been an absolute frenzy of do-it-yourself projects. Trash to treasure. Sewing. Painting. Furniture refinishing. I can’t wait to start sharing some of them with you in the next few weeks. All the changes have changed me as well. I now LOVE my apartment!

Stay tuned…..Hera’s Design Challenge coming up next on HGTV! lol

You will mock me no more!

Instead of diligently working on software documentation at work I have decided to throw myself onto Santa’s Naughty list and embrace my desire to blog.

What’s one more year on the Naughty list? Santa still loves me (I think)!

The past week has been a blur of work, stitching, crocheting and wrapping – all things I truly enjoy; just in smaller doses!

Yesterday I decided to work on finishing some ornaments I had stitched up. In the past I have always finished all my cross stitching by hand but this year I decided to try machine finishing.

I bought myself a rather simple sewing machine after Thanksgiving. The colorful box sat in the trunk of my car for over two weeks. Each time I popped the trunk it sat there, mocking me, asking me why I bothered to buy it.

It was a terrifying purchase for me and I was too nervous to bring it in the house.

Let me give you some background. First let’s start with the fact that I am actually quite smart (no, really, I am! It’s modesty I obviously have a problem with). I can read very well with a high degree of comprehension. There have been numerous IQ tests and 4.0 grades to substantiate this (see, here’s another example that the problem is with the modesty!)

I can thread a needle on the first try and sew just about anything by hand. I have a nice eye for free handing straight lines. I have sewn stuffed animals, doll blankets, bridal accessories and Christmas ornaments – all by hand.

Yet, when confronted with a bobbin and electricity I am reduced to the mental capacity of a squirrel. No, actually, squirrels are smart enough to figure out squirrel-proof bird feeders so I’m sure even they could figure out how to thread a sewing machine.

Sunday morning I was finally brave enough to bring it in the house and remove it from its box. I sat in a well lighted space at my kitchen table with the machine placed in front of me and carefully read all the instructions.

I reviewed the diagram of machine parts until I could quickly identify all parts of the machine by name. I’m not kidding, I spent an hour with this manual while I talked to myself.

There have been many previous attempts with sewing machines in the past. All failed miserably. There were tangled bobbins, broken needles and jammed machines. It’s always been like this. I think it’s because when we learned machine sewing in Home Ec I was out sick.

I was a sickly kid in junior high and it has affected my crafting through to the present day. My frustration has always been overwhelming at the thought of sewing.

Yesterday I was determined to confront my fear and master this machine.

For two hours I attempted to thread the machine. I followed the instructions, the diagrams and the warning notes to the letter and still – NOTHING! I gave up and told my boyfriend of my defeat. The machine was smarter than I was. It won. It was right to mock me. I was not destined to be a machine sewer.

I went back to bed and took a lovely nap till noon. Mind you, all this sewing stuff started at 5am! I got up, made some chicken and dumplings (delicious!) and then sat to craft the afternoon away.

Around 3pm I became irate with myself that I was too stupid to thread this simple machine. I dragged everything in front of my comfy recliner and put on one of my favorite trashy tv shows – Tabatha’s Salon Takeover on Bravo (I just love her – she was so great on Shear Genius!).

I watched the show and was very relaxed as I loaded the bobbin and threaded the machine – ON THE FIRST TRY!

I machine finished two ornaments yesterday with a beautiful sparkly thread and perfectly straight seams.

I let out a huge sigh of relief  but before I declared myself a master of the machine I took all the thread out of the it and rethreaded it five times in a row.

I successfully sewed after each re-thread.

I was so proud of myself it really is hard to put into words. I don’t like to  be unable to do anything! And I especially don’t like it when inanimate objects, like a sewing machine, are mocking me!

I can’t wait to finish cross stitching a few pieces just so I can finish them on the machine! 😉