Looking up on a Friday

September 9, 2011


Thought it was time for another Looking Up post.

Things that make me happy right now:

  • Cooler morning air. Cooler evening air. The signal of the change in season.
  • Making headway on the new backporch (details soon!) being built by us in the space that used to house our old kitchen.
  • A return to hot coffee from a few months of iced coffee (see first bullet).
  • Making good, healthy, wholesome food from scratch every night for dinner, and always having leftovers the next day.
  • Feeling grateful that the old bones in this old rowhome have withstood the intense amount of (more) rain we got this week. So far so good on the no rain *inside* the house. Our basement is dry and our roof is sturdy. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones, lost their home, and have to deal with more flooding damage in Pennsylvania due to the overflow of the Schuylkill, Delaware, and Susquehanna.
  • A great guy who works on beautifying my bicycles for me. My Surly Steamroller fixed gear has been lovingly retrofitted, switched over to freewheel, and we swapped out the bullhorn bars for uprights. It’s a lovely lovely smooth ride and I am so happy that I have good, strong bicycles.
  • Hope you are looking to the positives, on this Friday.

    (And on a sad note. The hurricane kitty has passed away in the loving hands of his foster. He was doing well for the first few days and then took a nosedive. I’m thankful for the amazing help my friends provided as I was trying to save him from a life on the streets of South Philly and am sad that he was unable to make it to a long cat life. So it is, sadly, the circle of life.)

    After a storm, new life

    August 29, 2011

    First and foremost, thank you for the birthday wishes! 29 is turning out to be pretty great so far.

    In other news, Hurricane Irene came through here and left Philly with a flooding river. Other than that, we got out unscathed. We bundled down in South Philly armed with delicious food, knitting, the humor of Louis C.K., and crosswords (for me).

    On Sunday morning, Kasy and I rode up to the banks of the Schuylkill River to see the flooding. These were taken at 9:30am and the waters rose even higher later in the day. I know that we’re lucky to not have any damage to our persons or our home and my heart goes out to those who are still dealing with damage, major flooding, injury, and the sad loss of loved ones. While the storm may have seemed like hype to a lot of people (myself included, as I pshawed the warnings expecting nothing more than the rain we did receive) it really did reek havoc in many communities and we are lucky it did not cause more damage and sadness than it did.

    Hurricane Irene aftermath - Sunday 8/28/11 9:30am

    Hurricane Irene aftermath - Sunday 8/28/11 9:30am

    Hurricane Irene aftermath - Sunday 8/28/11 9:30am

    Hurricane Irene aftermath - Sunday 8/28/11 9:30am

    As parts of the city are still recuperating, we continued on with our home renovations today. I had scheduled some debris haulers to come in and remove demolition waste from the tear down of the back room (where the kitchen used to be). We’re going to be building a pretty excellent back porch in its place. Our trusty haulers came out and upon removing the ply-wood board we had covering the crumbling Sheetrock pile, they discovered a newborn kitten snuggled into the pile of debris. Now, I’ve had animals in my life every since I was a wee one, but this is by far the scariest, tiniest, animal I’ve ever had to handle. I was a nervous wreck. Luckily, I know some great people who are excellent foster parents for the strays and surrenders in our city, and I called one of them immediately after putting the kitten in a box with towels. My friend awesomely handled finding someone to come and pick up the wee kitty, have it checked out at PAWS and passed on to a wonderful foster parent who is well versed in bottle-feeding. It was a stressful few hours, friends, as this tiny life was in my hands and I felt helpless and worried.

    debris kitten

    I’m hopeful that this little hurricane babe survives, even though it was found relatively abandoned with eyes and ears closed and cord still attached. It is a cutie and deserves a lovely cat life, not on the mean streets of stray-cat-ville South Philly. It was also an interesting reminder at how tiny life can be and how tenuous it can be, and how scary change and the world can seem.

    can you handle the cuteness?

    Hi there! So the temperatures have been hitting high around here, and we’ve been working hard on the house. When we finished the kitchen we moved our work straight upstairs to start on our bedroom. Knowing that the room would be finished quick, since any construction was already completed in it months ago (new closet added), this was an instant gratification job.

    And boy…does it feel good.

    A few years ago, we wanted to find a good blue for the bedroom that would have the same qualities of the dark green on the first floor. Being somewhat muted and heathery. We picked a color and went with it.

    YIP 2009 | 11/365 | Corners of my home

    And did not get what the paint chip showed we would get. This was 2 coats of the blue, and there was still ghosting. A third coat would have made our room almost pitch black! So we picked a lighter blue, which also turned out to be a horrible choice. And then we gave up for a little bit, living with a patchwork blue room that was so utterly dark and not at all what we wanted.

    Next up? Bedroom. Repainting + Reflooring

    We moved our things out of the bedroom, which was easy since our bedroom furniture consists of a bed, a bedside table, a chair, and a lamp. We got rid of our dressers a year or so ago, when Kasy built me a closet of my very own. Our work in the bedroom consisted of scraping, spackling, sanding, repainting, and reflooring. Here are some before shots.

    Next up? Bedroom. Repainting + Reflooring

    Next up? Bedroom. Repainting + Reflooring

    We decided to stick with the gorgeous light blue that was used in the kitchen (Behr’s Tropical Breeze), and painted the ceiling cream as we’ve been doing in all our rooms as we renovate, to maximize light flow in our dark dark house.

    Master Bedroom

    Then we added in the flooring. Ok. Let’s be honest. Kasy did the entire reflooring job, while I was at Maryland Sheep and Wool. What a good man.

    After the floors were put in

    Moved our stuff back in…and have never been happier with this room! It is so peaceful. So serene. It stays so nice and light even when dark outside. It’s beautiful in the early light of early morning.

    Master Bedroom! Finished!

    The futon isn’t staying, by the way. We’ve moved our work onto Kasy’s daughter’s bedroom and needed to put her bed somewhere during that time. So for now, we have a little couch. Or thing that I put my clothes on instead of putting them away. Which ever.


    So the other thing I’ve been working on is the last of my 3 remaining items on my knitting short list. I have all 3 started and all 3 underway. This is a sneak peak of some very gorgeous woolly knitting going on over here.


    It’s the Acer cardigan in Green Mountain Spinnery yarn (Maine Organic in light gray and Wonderfully Woolly in Pine Warbler for the edging).

    Stay tuned tomorrow, I’ll be posted a quick little yarn giveaway in the theme of RED for Project Spectrum.

    The FINISHED Kitchen

    May 15, 2011

    I posted a little while back about the progress we were making on the kitchen. And then we finished the kitchen….and I didn’t tell you about it. It was 92% done, and we wanted to finish up some of the little things around the room before taking the glamor shots for flickr and the blog. Sorry for the lag…but here it is, in all its glory!

    Our finished kitchen

    Our finished kitchen

    Our finished kitchen

    Our finished kitchen

    Our finished kitchen

    Some details: The not built in kitchen furniture is from IKEA. The gorgeous photo on the wall was a gift from my high school best friend (also a talented photographer) and her very talented photographer husband, Joseph Ruggeri. The paint is Behr’s Tropical Breeze. The lights are all from Home Depot.

    We love this room so very much. As always, all the home renovation photos are kept in this flickr set.

    Happy Friday!

    April 29, 2011

    Spring has sprung

    We have a great weekend planned, starting with seeing our good friend Maura in her first trapeze performance. The rest of the weekend consists of cleaning, organizing, purging things, and repainting our bedroom. The warmer temperatures have settled into town, here, and it is making it hard to be in a bad mood. Spring has finally arrived.

    Have a good weekend, friends!

    Feels like a billion years has passed since we last spoke. Probably because my life was consumed by sanding spackle, thinking about sanding spackle, and thinking about life after sanding spackle. Oh, and some work for my job thrown in too.

    So today’s WIP post brings you REAL PROGRESS. That’s always exciting to see, especially when so many projects, both knitting and non-knitting, have that long period of time in the middle where it feels like you’re merely treading water and not getting anywhere. The sanding spackle stage of renovation exists solely in this place. So let’s talk progress. And breathe a sigh of relief at the thought that all that work that you and I do, as we chug along on the projects at hand, actually do lead us to a place of progress and, hopefully, a place of a finished goal (eventually).

    The new kitchen.

    utility room?

    This photo, from Kasy’s flickr account, shows the original state of the new kitchen room. We think it was the original kitchen, that was then turned into some sort of utility/laundry room. Which would be fine, really, if the working kitchen, through that doorway in the back, wasn’t so shoddily created. A badly done addition with barely, if any, insulation in the floors and walls. Every winter, without fail, the water pipes would freeze with the slightest drop below freezing. The real kicker in getting our kitchen out of this room was when the badly done roof started leaking in the corner. Enough was enough. We slapped on a new backdoor, in that doorway (after some much needed rebuilding of the doorjam), and started demoing this utility room.

    Coming Soon! New Kitchen!

    Demolition feels like progress, doesn’t it? Until you realize that the demo stage is only the beginning of the project. There were some bumps in the road, post demo, where Kasy had to heavily patch the brick wall behind the wall we ripped down as well as rebuild the window frame.

    The wall before we started

    Patched big holes in the brick wall

    After that was finished, we moved onto scraping the old glue off the walls behind the tiles we removed. That was a tiresome task, and proved to be more difficult that we anticipated. So we scraped and scraped and came to the realization that these walls will never be scraped down to the nice, even wall we expect in a room.

    New lights!

    working on the kitchen

    Enter the spackle stage of hell.

    Be afraid

    light at the end of the tunnel

    We spackled the 2 walls that previously had tiles on the bottom half and sanded. And sanded. And re-spackled. And sanded more. And we never felt like it would be over.

    But look! It finally paid off! We’re painting now!



    Progress feels awesome. Next up is the floor installation (same bamboo as the dining room and living room), oven installation, and adding all the counters and cabinets. This room will feel so worth the effort when it’s finished.

    Work-in-Progress Wednesday

    February 16, 2011

    I always love the blogs that detail works-in-progress on Wednesdays, or any day of the week in regularity, for that matter. I’m thinking of starting to do a similar thing. Unfortunately for you knitters out there, this WIP might not be that interesting to you.

    Our Kitchen Renovation in Progress. A WIP of huge proportions.

    working on the kitchen

    New lights!

    No Saturday is complete without...

    Kitchen crazed
    Oh wait. There’s a knitterly thing in this photo. Idlewood in the wild (of the kitchen)!

    c o l d

    I’m keeping warm over here, with the fresh snow outside (only 5 inches in Philly), hot coffee on the table, wool drying on the radiator, and great tunes to keep my heart and head happy (currently rotating Bruce Springsteen, the early years), and thought I’d pop in to say “hey!” and “look at some things I made” and “look at some things I will be making.”

    As you may remember, last February I started working weekends at Rosie’s Yarn Cellar and could no longer resist the call of the Manos Rittenhouse 5-ply. You haven’t tried it yet? Shame on you. It really is amazing. AMAZING. (Rosie’s also ships, ahem. In case you need some enabling and can’t find it locally). This was also during a time of great strife for me, computer-wise. My trusty laptop had become the breeding ground of a nasty virus and one of my friends was kind enough to help me out on that front. In true barter fashion, all he asked for was a handknit hat in return. One that he could throw his hair up into, push back on his head a bit, and keep warm and awesome in its slouchiness. Well, that just begs to be the Felicity Hat if you ask me.

    I knit this blue one for myself, since I had unexpectedly gifted my previously made one to a dear friend while dancing around drunkenly together at her housewarming party a few months prior.

    FO 2010 : finished back in february

    I wore this hat for many months last year, very pleased with it. Sadly, it never really lived up to the awesomeness of that first Felicity hat. I don’t think I knit the body of the hat as long as the first.


    I also knit this brown one. This one being for my computer savvy friend with a penchant for slouchy hats. Of course, due to bad schedules on both our parts I didn’t end up gifting him a handknit hat until well into early summer. At that time, I had misplaced this brown one and so the blue hat when to live on the head of an amazing drummer and the brown one became mine. The brown one is my go to hat for cold days. The Rittenhouse has held up without any pilling through a lot of putting on, taking off, being shoved into coat pockets, dropped on the floor, stuffed into the bottom corner of a bag (I need my knits to be hearty, since I am not so super delicate with clothes. Clothes are meant to be worn and loved.).

    These two hats cemented my absolute love for the Rittenhouse 5-ply and the colorway Smoke might be the most perfect gray every created. After seeing a friend design a gorgeous cabled sweater with this yarn, I knew I wanted to make something with cables in it for my next project with this yarn.

    I need to finish this sweater

    I cast on at the end of summer but sadly this sweater’s progress was seriously derailed by some deadline knitting quickly followed by holiday knitting. This is my next big thing to tackle and finish. I already know that this sweater will bring nothing but smiles. (Knitting details: Lauren by Ann Weaver. Manos Rittenhouse 5-ply in Smoke. Size 7 needles. Alternating skeins every other row)

    I need to finish this sweater

    In conclusion. Manos Rittenhouse 5-ply. I love you.

    Oh, and just for fun, here’s a picture of our kitchen-to-be! We gutted the old kitchen and gutted the room where the new kitchen will be and are plowing ahead with this project. I will definitely show more photos of this room in progress, since it will be our largest renovation undertaking.

    Coming Soon! New Kitchen!

    Happy Holidays!

    December 26, 2010

    Christmas has passed and Philadelphia is bracing itself for the onslaught of a snowstorm today. I hope you are keeping warm and toasty with the ones you love.

    Here are some shots from the past couple of weeks.

    Bilenky Junkyard Cyclocross Race 2010

    Bilenky Junkyard Cyclocross Race 2010

    First snow of the season!

    Beets + Turnips + Potatoes = Soup

    Happy Solstice

    These days

    November 4, 2010

    I had every intention of blogging yesterday, especially since I had a lovely few hours with Ms. Through the Loops and Ms. Choo Choo Knits.

    Wednesday with some friends

    We stopped by Loop and Rosie’s Yarn Cellar, since they had never been to either, and then had a long lunch with knitting and chit chat. I wore my Ulmus for the occasion!


    Then back to the grind I went. Yesterday involved doing work (for my job) and doing work (on the house).

    We’ve seen a lot of this lately: