Owl Stitchery

With all that's going on in life, this project was like a good book that I could pick up and get lost in, a mini-retreat if you will. It's been a little sad to call it done, but finished it is. I used materials I had on hand. The base of the owl is an old washcloth with a beautiful design that I'd saved from years ago. There are scraps, a block printing sample I made, and miscellaneous threads, some gifts of hand-dyed wool I had been treasuring. 

Here is the progress for my little whimsical owl stitchery. I started by making the owl face, and placed the face onto the washcloth. I took a photo and in my notes I sketched out different lines, colors, and ideas. 

The computer sketch is above and stitching below. 

The completed owl.

I put linen and my block printing sample into the embroidery hoop, and played with the positioning of the owl and branch. I used my notes on my ipad again to try out different embellishments that might look nice. I really enjoyed using my ipad for this, and am now using this method for some of my other artwork. 

The block print sample was stitched to the linen.

Here's a computer sketch of the branches to be stitched.

The grounding branch, blossoms and dainty branches were embroidered.

I needed to decide whether to leave it plain or add flowers, so I cut out a few flowers and arranged those in different ways. 

I loved the cheery flowers, and really, I wasn't ready to stop stitching yet, so I appliqued the flowers and leaves. 

And still not ready to put it down, I added various flora. 

A tiny bit of red was needed to pull in other art that would be nearby.

Once the stitching was complete, I hot glued the fabric to the embroidery hoop, then trimmed the excess off. 

I'm planning on creating a gallery up my staircase wall where my little owl will reside and watch over us with her sweet, inquisitive eyes as the years go by. 

Wood WISE by Amorim review, our new cork flooring

The next project on our list was to replace the 30+ year old carpet in the guest room. I really liked the carpet, but it was tired and worn and truly needed to go. But what to replace it with? More carpet; luxury vinyl plank; hard wood; engineered wood; laminate; tile? They all have their pluses and minuses to be sure; and when you add in the plethora of options, information, finishes, scorings, ratings, touchability, visuals, different names, manufacturers, country of origin, environmental issues, reliability, durability....this research is not for the faint of heart.

After many months of learning and comparisons and hair pulling, we chose to replace the carpet with a hard surface and decided on cork, a "green" product without any VOC's (nasty fumes), no formaldehyde nor phthalates.  We agreed to install Wood WISE by Amorim. Amorim has been in the cork business since 1870 and is a world leader in this sector. Wicanders, another big name in the cork world, is part of the Amorim family. They harvest the cork and create their flooring in Portugal. It's manufactured in a carbon negative facility (read about that here), making it a sustainable product. They use recycled water bottles for their top, protective layer. When we're done with it some day, our floor will be fully recyclable.

Gary at I&J Carpet introduced me to the product in their showroom. Of all the hundreds of samples of flooring I had looked at, Wood WISE topped my list for visual beauty and touchability (yep, that's a word in the flooring world). It looks very much like real hardwood. It's available in many colors and styles. There is texture on the surface which I wanted to help our dog keep her footing. Poor thing often does the Scooby scramble on our existing hardwood floors. As a huge bonus, this product is 100% waterproof, so those occasional accidents are easily cleaned up.

Wood WISE planks are brand spanking new, so we could not find even one review. It frankly took a huge leap of faith for us to even consider it. After weighing all the pros and cons, and factoring in that Wood WISE checked all of our boxes, we decided to place our order.

We pulled the baseboards off ourselves. It was quick and easy and even kind of fun due to having the right tool.

If you're going to reuse the baseboards, remember to number the back of the pieces so re-installation of your baseboards goes smoothly.

Wood WISE is a click-in product, so you can install it yourself if you like. We were in a time crunch, so we hired a pro.

Our floor looks absolutely beautiful! What a transformation. I love the feel of the floor. It's warm, and soft, and very quiet. Since it's only been installed for a few weeks, I'll have to update you as time goes on to report on durability. I can vouch that for us we could detect no off-gassing. My parents came to stay for the holidays a few days after the floor was installed. My mother is extremely sensitive to any and all noxious fumes or smells, and she did not have any issues at all. Gotta love that!

For now, we'll enjoy our new floor. I'll breathe easy knowing there is no off-gassing in our home; admire the beauty of our floor; enjoy the new updated look of our room; and hope the durability is as promised.

UPDATE: I cannot believe it's been over a year since we've had our cork floor! In the past year we've adopted two large dogs. Even with the extra wear and tear, the floor looks as beautiful now as when we first installed it. We've also had a few spills, some that weren't discovered until the next day. No problem at all.  I use a non-rotating head vacuum cleaner; and mop with the suggested Bona floor cleaner.

We have hardwood flooring in most of the house.There is a difference in feel. The cork flooring is softer. It makes sense, because the cork is protected by a layer of recycled plastic bottles and hardwood floors will have a harder finish. The cork is also more flexible and padded with a backing layer of cork. It's not better or worse: It's just a little different. 

We're extremely happy with our cork floor and would use it again if we have the opportunity. Best of luck with your flooring search!

Wire Shelving Makover

Trouble with space issues has sent the organizational part of my brain into overdrive. We do plan on some remodeling/additions eventually, so I don't want to spend too much money on temporary solutions, but being a Virgo I cannot abide living in chaotic mess. An awkward corner of stacked boxes and plastic storage bins was driving me nuts. I brought in a shelving unit that had been languishing in the garage filled with deflated soccer balls, old lacrosse sticks, and miscellaneous stuff that hasn't been used in years. Score! I love it when I can shop my own home, especially during a pandemic. Even more fortuitous is that this shelving was the perfect size to fit tidily into this corner, and had casters to roll easily out of the way if we wanted to fully access a seldom used door.

Now I appreciate the minimalist look, and wire shelving in the home can be done quite successfully, but it just wasn't cutting it in my art/sunroom. The wood trim and terracotta tiled floor begged for something warm and not the cold steel look. Plus I was still looking at plastic bins and clutter. I had previously ordered a large quantity of natural linen from Fabrics-store.com (subscribe for their most awesome sales). I'm contemplating recovering an old sofa, and I knew there were lots of projects around the house that I could use this linen for......like covering metal shelving.

Lowe's had a solid pine board the perfect size to fit on top of the shelves. I ordered that and a curtain rod online, and utilized their convenient, contact-less curbside pick up. 

I put screws on the bottom of the board; then wired the board to the shelving to help keep it in place. 

I then screwed the curtain rod to the front of the board. The hardware didn't fit exactly, so I'll be sure to gently move the curtains when I'm accessing the boxes. 

I sewed the front curtains from two rectangular pieces of cloth, using the selvedge as the hem for the bottom. I then used a third piece of linen and attached it with fabric tacks for a stationary covering on the side to completely enclose the shelves.

It's also nice to have an extra work station or flat space to put things. 

All in all I'm very happy with the outcome of this project, corralling the clutter and creating more useful space, while not spending too much time and money on it.