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Do You To-Do?

April 4, 2014

To do


In an effort to get back into a regular posting schedule, I’m starting a (grammatically incorrect) Friday posting: Do you…? These will just be a quick way to talk about some of the stuff going on around here, and to hopefully hear from anyone reading the blog.

OK: Do you to-do?

I am an avid daily to-do list maker. I will even make lists after I do stuff just to feel productive. I use the reminders app on my phone as well as written lists. Since we finished the house though, Mr. B and I have been less than productive at moving forward with bigger stuff. When you build a house, you always know what next, but in daily life it can be hard to prioritize the things you don’t have to do.

Last month I made a “seasonal” to do list of stuff I wanted to get done before the weather got nice. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many of the jobs are already done – these are tasks that we haven’t done in the last 1.5 years, despite them being relatively easy and/or having everything we need to do them. I’m working on a new list now, but it can be tricky. There are the really big things (building a shop, the garden), but I want these to be smaller and easily achieved, while also being tasks that we might not automatically think of doing with free time.

Your turn, readers: do you to-do?


We Welcome our Swedish Overlords

April 3, 2014
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Great wall of storage

One of the biggest projects we tackled this winter was finally finishing our “great wall of storage.” The plan was always to cover the long wall of our great room with book shelves and a pantry, but we’d originally wanted to self build them (of course). We planned, we re-planned, we tried to figure out how to do it for cheap but still make it look good. In the end, I just got sick of using the wire shelving rack and single box for most of our food and dishes. Enter: Ikea and the Billy bookcase.





I want you all to know that this house is not staged for photography. Yes, this is actually what it looks like every day. Ahem. The Billy book case is everywhere and has been around for years, but a few details. You can get the bookcases in 11″ or 15″ depths, and they have optional full or half doors. We got the 11″ for the ones we are using as bookcases and the 15″ for the kitchen. They feel nice and sturdy.

There isn’t an Ikea in Missoula, so we got them shipped here. It takes about a month for the shipping, and it costs kind of a lot, but they were super heavy. They had to get delivered to Mr. B’s work since they couldn’t get a semi truck down to our house. One of the glass doors got broken at some point, but it was too much work to ship it back. Luckily, Mr. B is super handy and I really wanted a magnetic surface you can see in the kitchen. Our fridge is wonderful, but you can’t put magnets on the front (who knew?), and I’d been missing having a place to put post cards and pictures. Mr. B got a thin piece of metal and installed it in the door – voila!



I’m sure he’s laugh ruefully if he saw that “voila.” The glass is fully sandwiched into the door, and you have to completely cut out the part of the door holding it in. If the glass hadn’t been smashed, I doubt that my dream of a place to put to-do lists and future kid art would have happened.

Spring Greens

March 20, 2014




First day of spring and the weatherman said it would be “dreary.” Indeed. This stretch from February to April is my least favorite season in Montana. Cold, windy, alternating between dry and rainy, dusty or muddy. No matter how nice the day is (and we’ve had a few), there still isn’t anything growing out there. No leaves, no flowers. There are a few tiny blades of grass starting to poke up though, so spring can’t be too far away. We’re going to clean out the greenhouse this weekend and start some seeds (yeah!).



To keep my spirits up until the real spring greens arrive, I’ve been knitting a few “spring” woolies. I made Sully a new hat (Purl Bee’s Garter Ear Flap Hat in Ultra Alpaca “Fennel”), and me a cardigan with my favorite cable (Acorn Trail in Ultra Alpaca Lovage). Mr. B and I have also been knocking projects off our indoor honey-do list before the weather gets nice (more on those later).


I Like Big Purses, and I Cannot Lie

December 18, 2013


So long since the last post! We’ve been wrapped up (consumed) by new parenthood. Weekends are now spent primarily on the couch with Sullivan both loving him and occasionally lamenting our status as parents. Projects around the house have mostly ground to a halt, although we are occasionally squeezing in a few. Later this week I’ll post about the gallery wall we put up several months ago, back before the sleep deprivation really kicked in. In the mean time though, I was so excited about this purse! The excitement was enough to get me back on the blog just so I could share how much I love it.


This is the Go Anywhere bag pattern from Noodlehead. I don’t remember how I found her site, but both her patterns and projects are lovely and inspiring. The instructions and little tips are wonderful. Some people like small purses, but I am not one of them. I am in fact notorious for cramming any bag I have full to the brim. After lusting after a certain leather purse for two years but never being able to justify the cost, I finally decided to make a purse over the summer. It would be perfect – small, but not too small; lots of pockets that were exactly the size I needed; short straps and a cross body strap. I made it and it was perfect, at least until Sully came along. Due to a math error, the purse was too small for the diaper changing mat I made. The short straps held the purse too close to my arm pit for me to use without taking it off (total pain when holding a baby), and if I used the long strap the interior collapsed in on itself. There were only pockets on one side, and that side was never the one facing out. I needed a place to put baby hats and coats, my ring sling, spit rags, and chew toys (the diaper bag was usually full and useless, and often left crammed in the back of the car). When I went to work for the day, I had to bring a tote bag for my lunch and snacks, notebook, hat and gloves. I pretty much spent the last 5 months constantly fighting to put stuff in the bag and then find said stuff again.

Nice and roomy.

Nice and roomy.

This bag though, this bag has it going on. Big enough that I can put all the things in and still be able to move them around. Four pockets! Three on the front and a nice big one on the back. Short arm straps that are still long enough (thanks to the dip in the middle as well as the length) that let the bag stay close to your body while still being long enough for you to open the bag. I made the exterior pockets out of canvas so it will stand up to rough treatment and still be washable, which is important when you absent mindedly  put your “empty” coffee cup in your purse and need to wash the whole thing. The only changes I made to the pattern were to add a zipper pocket to one side of the lining, and to put in a key fob. This is easily the biggest purse I’ve ever owned, but thanks to the shape, exterior pockets, and the lighter colored lining, I have a feeling it will be the most useful.

I’ll leave you with this picture of the cutest baby in the world:


Baby Sewing Spree

May 24, 2013
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Call it nesting. Call it pent up frustration at not sewing for myself. Call it spring fever. Whatever it is, I have been in a baby sewing frenzy over the last week. The projects are just so fun. You need so little fabric, they are quick, and I don’t obsess over perfection. Anything with a high chance of getting pooped or vomited on, and a wearing span of 3 months just lowers the bar a lot.

1) He’s All Boy Baby Cap from This Mama Makes Stuff:

Not quite as manly as the original plaid version, but nothing says “summer” and “total gentleman” like mint seersucker.



2) Big Butt Baby Pants from Made by Rae

These are the most addictive sew so far. Really fast and cute. Doesn’t a baby need 20 pairs of pants? I made them both out of linen scraps I had on hand.



The best part about these is the extra panel to provide more room for cloth diapering fluff butt. Bonus: the baby will blend in with our pillows when he wears the green pair.



3) Katrina’s Wool Soaker and Longies

I’ve read lots of great things about wool covers (aka “soakers”) over cloth diapers, especially at night. You can make them short (like underwear) or long (like pants). I made these out of felted sweaters from the Goodwill. I would totally wear the purple pants in heartbeat – cashmere.



5) All-in-One Changing Mat from Made by Marzipan

Not to get too deep into my diaper bag thoughts, but I can’t have my main purse be my diaper bag. I use my purse to carry notebooks and food to work, and I want our diaper bag to be something Mr. B or my mom can take. If I am required to transfer my wallet, phone, and keys out of one bag, then I usually end up without at least one of them later. I saw lots of comments about diaper clutches – a smaller bag that can hold a few diapers and wipes. This one is an all-in-one changing pad and clutch that I can put in my purse when we just go out to run short errands, or that can be easily added to the diaper bag (or not, depending on my brain capacity). The pockets are smaller than I expected – I can carefully cram 2 prefolds into one pocket, and a small dry bag, cover, and wipes into the other. I used iron on vinyl for the inside of the cover. Amazing! Instantly make any fabric waterproof and wipeable.




Kitchen Island!

May 23, 2013


Everyone puts furniture on their floor plan, right? When we were designing the house, I knew that I wanted a big, sturdy island in kitchen, so I planned to make sure there was enough room for the thing. It needed to be big enough that you didn’t need to worry about pushing something off the other side (3 x 4′), have a solid top, and be just the right height to knead bread on. Mr. B also wanted something we could use to process an animal on. Some friends recently built an island so close to what I was imagining that I announced my personal plan to build the thing. The thought of me, wood, his tools, and my past wood working projects was enough to get Mr. B on-board, and we turned this project out in about a week (with help from Mr. B’s dad).

We’ve been using a flimsy folding table that you couldn’t get clean, and I was so sick of looking at it. I knew that the island was a good idea though – that little table had already become a center focus of the kitchen. We put groceries on it, drop the mail there, pull things out of the fridge and drop them on it, served drinks and appetizers there. This new island is going to do its job so much better. Mr. B’s brother, Mr. T, helped us move it into place last night and we instantly started using it. The top is maple rubbed with mineral oil, and the base is fir. Ain’t she a beaut?



We need to do something to the top though. I applied the recommended 6 coats of mineral oil, and the wood really did drink it up. But when Mr. B wiped it down with a sponge, a huge rough spot raised on one side. Even letting more oil sit on top overnight didn’t fix it. I know that it is counter, and it is going to get dinged and knife marked and stained, but it is hard to accept that wiping it with a sponge is going to rough up the surface. We’re going to try raising the grain with water, sanding it again, and then applying more oil over several days. Fingers crossed that I can go back to rubbing my face on it by Sunday.


May 22, 2013



Mr. B and his dad started heroically installing steps up to our house over the weekend. Our house sits on a pile of super mud – super dark, super sticky, super everywhere. Walking from the bottom of the hill to the top is enough to coat your entire shoe in a huge wad of mud that you then leave everywhere. I’ve resorted to carrying “town shoes” down to my car just to avoid the embarrassment of leaving a trail of mud (fresh and dried) in every building I enter. Since the house is also on a slope, walking up the hill can be a little dangerous in the winter as well, and it just doesn’t have that “Welcome” feeling you want.

We’re using some of the short logs left over from the old cabin. I love having these logs around! Mr. B and his dad cut in holes for each log to sit in, then laid weed mat under the entire “stair case”. We’re using pea gravel to fill it all in. Even halfway done, it already feels so much nicer, and our shoes are staying cleaner (we’re getting lots of rain right now).