Category Archives: Charm City Kim Creates

Demo has begun

For the last month or so, we’ve been talking about moving into my mom’s house. We abstractly spoke about the renovations that needed to take place and then spent the last month cleaning out and/or packing up my mom’s house.

Demo started yesterday. And while I still have a lot of mixed emotions about moving, renovations sometimes make me giddy. I love before and after pictures. I love that some of the stuff that has driven me crazy for years at my parents’ house will finally be fixed (or at least updated!).

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any “before” pictures (when all of the furniture was still in the rooms) so I know my before and afters won’t necessarily be as dramatic.

Currently, the non-master bedroom full bathroom is being completed renovated. They demoed the entire room yesterday. I didn’t stop by the house to see it but Jeremy did and sent me this pic:
Demoed bathroom

That, my friends, is a nearly completely gutted bathroom. Apparently they realized that the ugly tiled floor was original to the house (they were concrete tiles that were several inches thick and were laid into a mesh flooring thingy). Crazy, right? They also discovered that the bathroom cabinets were blocking an air duct. So a/c and heat have been blowing directly in the back of a cabinet FOR YEARS. The shower was leaking internally (and that’s why there is no subfloor). Basically this bathroom desperately needed to be gutted.

I can’t wait to share the “after” pictures (but that probably won’t be for another week or two due to the work having to stop to accommodate the flooring guys).

I’ll share some current “before” pictures of all of the rooms without furniture (just the paint, wallpaper and carpet) so there’s at least SOME before/after shots.

But now that this has started, it really means that we’re moving. UGH.

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Charm City No More

I’ve mentioned in my last few posts that some big changes were happening in the Charm City household. I guess it is about time I start spilling the beans on these so called big changes.

We’re moving. And as the title of this post suggests, we’re moving out of Baltimore City.

I know I said I was ready to move but this move is bittersweet. I wish I could say we found our dream home and some unbelievable price. That is not the case at all. In light of everything that’s happened (you know, my dad dying and all), we’re moving into my mom’s house. This was not an easy decision but it is the right decision for a number of reasons:

(1) it is incredibly difficult to manage my mom’s finances when I’m not with her. She’s like a damn teenager that doesn’t understand the importance of paying bills on time or how to save money. For friends that have been subjected to my bitch fest phone calls, you know how stressful this has been for me. My parents weren’t the most fiscally responsible people so just to stay on top of some of these things has been a nightmare.

(2) my mom is having a really hard time living alone. She’s painfully lonely. She was with my dad for 42 years. So for 42 years she hasn’t been alone and being in the home she shared with my dad for 27 years is painful for her. She initially asked if she could live with us but our house is a shoebox. It just made sense to move into her house.

(3) we always knew that at some point my mom would be living with us. It was clear she’d outlive my dad and wasn’t capable of caring for herself. We always planned on finding a house with an “in-law” suite. The timing of my dad’s death just happened to fall during a time where we couldn’t really afford to move into a desirable house with an in-law suite.

(4) my mom needs some financial help. While we aren’t taking over all of her payments (car, car insurance, etc.) – we’ll be taking over some of the smaller basic items like phone, cable, internet, gas & electric.

Since we are moving into my childhood home, there are quite a few changes that need to happen to the home. My parents hadn’t really updated the house for 20 years. They did some minor updates in the early 90s and then recently had their kitchen “redone” (I put this in quotes because the person they hired to do the work did a HORRIFIC job that we’ll be redoing).

So, since I didn’t want this to be just the death blog, pregnancy blog or mommy blog… I’ll be adding home improvement to the list of things I’ll be blogging about. While I really am not looking forward to living in my childhood home, I am somewhat excited to update this house since there are design choices that have driven me crazy for a number of years.

We’ve been spending all of our free time trying to clean out my mom’s house and prep it for renovations. Last week I had the bright idea of trying to take down the wallpaper in my parents’ old bedroom.

Taking down wallpaper

While we have declared that we’ll never paint again (we’ll always pay a pro – it isn’t worth the headache of painting something ourselves anymore), I really wanted to figure out where we could save some money so I suggested we try taking down the wallpaper ourselves. I could tell that this particular wallpaper wouldn’t be terribly difficult to remove (and I was right) but it was still a pain in the ass. I’m not sure if you can tell, but my parents wallpapered IN THEIR CLOSET. Who does that?! It took us ALL DAY to peel down this wallpaper despite most of it coming down in sheets (there were a few sticky areas that required scoring and scraping). We didn’t even pull it out completely in the closets because it would require us to take down the closet shelves, rods and doors.

This will be my life over the next month or so before we do the big move. Expect lots of pictures. I love good before and after pictures.

And since I won’t be living in Charm City – I’m thinking about changing this blog name to something else. I can’t think of anything great though. I had one name but it is taken in WordPress so I’m kind of stuck. Any ideas? (and in case you’re wondering of my blog name, I was thinking “Just Kim” since that is my name and I often have to say “It is just Kim, not Kimberly”).

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Pinteractive: Maxi Skirt

Hey there – it has been awhile since I’ve gotten “pinteractive”.  I was on a roll for awhile but then totally dropped the ball.

I’m not particularly proud of this project.  I initially set out to sew my own maxi skirt (after pinning this seemingly easy tutorial) because I figured it might have ended up being pretty cost effective and I could ensure a proper length.  Being on the tall side (I’m 5’8″ so I’m not a giant but you’d think I was in some stores), I have a hard time with inseams and skirt length.  However, after seeing SO MANY inexpensive maxi skirts – I realized that this was not cost effective.

Anyways.  My biggest lesson learned here is that sewing with jersey knit is HARD.  The fabric is so stretchy and sort of heavy that it isn’t easy to sew a straight line.  I also learned that I really need to read tutorials more carefully.  I hadn’t bothered to ensure that I bought the appropriate amount of fabric.  So I bought a lot of black jersey knit fabric… but just not enough for a maxi skirt.  So I had to go back but this time I could only find enough in the purple jersey knit.

Basically I spent an ass load of money on fabric for what I thought would be a cost effective project.

I didn’t snap pictures along the way because I spent so much time getting frustrated.
Cutting out fabric

The other pain in the ass?  I don’t have a large enough cutting board.  And since this fabric isn’t stiff, I had a really hard time cutting it out.

Some things I gave up because I was so frustrated with this project was hemming anything.  I still haven’t cut the skirt to the appropriate length yet but here’s the almost final project:

diy maxi skirt
I definitely need to get a few more sewing projects under my belt (with cotton fabric!) before I attempt another jersey knit.

Nannersp

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Pinteractive: Shirred Summer Dress

I sewed my first article of clothing!

Inspired by this pin (25 tutorials for baby summer dresses), I decided to try my hand at the Sweet Shirred Summer Dress (featured on Prudent Baby… I love that site!).

I didn’t take any photos of the process.  Sorry about that.  But if you click the tutorial that I linked above, they did a really good job of outlining the steps (and including photos!).

I was actually setting out to make a maxi skirt for myself when I decided to tackle a sewing project.  The maxi skirt tutorial called for elastic thread.  I was a little nervous about using elastic thread but Prudent Baby made a great suggestion.  So in case you’re curious, because I have a sewing machine with a “drop-in bobbin” (and I have no idea what that really means… I looked up the specs on my sewing machine to confirm that it was a “drop-in”) – I couldn’t hand wind the bobbin like most of the tutorials suggested.  Prudent Baby said to machine wind the bobbin but set the stitch length to 3.5.  That was PERFECT.

Anyways.

I made a little skirt for AM with some jersey knit fabric that I had intended for me (but I didn’t buy enough).  But I totally f’ed up the skirt.  However, it gave me confidence to work with elastic thread.  But I still didn’t want to tackle my maxi skirt.  I bought new fabric for the maxi skirt but let me tell you… jersey fabric is not easy to sew.
Shirred Toddler Dress

The fabric I used was an old crib sheet.  We were gifted this crib sheet and I accidently ripped it trying to put it on the mattress.  But in my crazy “I hate waste” mind, I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the sheet.  I knew I’d find a way to repurpose it and I’m so happy that I did.

Shirred Toddler Dress

I ran into some difficulty sizing this dress.  Shirring fabric entails bunching fabric together.  The pattern recommended cutting the fabric to be 1.5 to 2 times the width of the actual size we wanted the dress.  And I did that.  But it was huge.  I had to cut this dress down twice and even so, I feel that the top is a little too wide.

Inside of elastic thread
This is what the inside of the fabric looked like with the elastic thread.

Oh – and this was the first time I tried to sew with bias tape (double fold).  I definitely winged it and while one side looks pretty good, the other side is pretty bad.  I read some tutorials on sewing on bias tape (after I had completed this dress) and realized I did it all wrong.  Oh well!

And here’s the lovely model…
Modeling new dress

She loves playing with the remote controls.

Model pose

A little over the shoulder glance?  She’s a natural model!

Modeling new dress

I realize it is probably weird that I’m snapping photos of her in the bathroom.  I probably should’ve chosen a more appropriate location.

Hiding

Playing peekaboo.  Hiding…
Boo!

Boo!

I’m probably going to make another one of these dresses in different fabric and I’m hoping that it won’t take me several hours/days to complete.

Nannersp

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Pinteractive: DIY Moss Letter

We recently installed a new media unit in our living room. The purpose of this new (and massive) media unit was to hide our shoe and coat storage (from a certain mobile toddler), add more hidden storage of AM’s toys and to store our miscellaneous things (so that our dining room table was no longer being used as a resting place for random junk).

Here was our original media unit (it was just a TV stand). We lived with this for nearly 7 years. The pictures behind the TV had been up for nearly 5 years. We clearly don’t change our decor very often.

Tv stand before

With the new media unit, we no longer needed to hang the 4 pictures and large mirror (since the media unit would be covering them). As we started to take down the frames and mirror, we saw that the mirror was hanging on an anchored screw.

And wouldn’t you know… the anchored screw sat above the new media unit. We didn’t want to deal with removing it, spackling over it and repainting.
empty space
(Please ignore the fact that I’m watching a terrible and not very funny TV show)

So I took to Pinterest.

I was inspired by the idea of hanging a large moss letter.

I didn’t want to hang another picture here. I wanted something that looked a little cleaner.

I purchased a wooden letter “M” (M is for Marvelous! or my last name. whatever.) from Joann Fabric using a 40% off coupon. I think this letter only ended up costing like $3.50?
wood M

I purchased this moss table runner from Michael’s with a 40% off coupon. This ended up costing around $8. I went with the table runner because it seemed to contain more moss than the bags with loose moss.
moss runner

Because the moss runner was all attached to some mesh, I chose to wrap the wooden letter like a present (with the courtesy of a hot glue gun). I also realized, while wrapping, that it would be a good idea to affix some wire to the letter (and underneath the moss) for hanging.

hanging wire

More wrapping:
wrapping the M

The front:
front of M

The back:
back of M

The result:
finished product

I realized, as I was packing away the leftover moss, that I was a total idiot that didn’t realize that the moss runner was folded in half. If you notice in the pictures above, there is moss on both sides as I’m wrapping the letter. That is due to the fact that I never unfolded the moss runner. It was kind of difficult to wrap the letter. The only reason this worked out was because the letter didn’t have any curves.  So… yes, I’m a bit of an idiot sometimes.

I’m not sure how I feel about the letter. Jeremy likes that it is simple and “clean” looking.  I think it looks lonely.

Nannersp

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Pinteractive: Magnetic Chalkboard

I do have other things going on other than my incessant need to get Pinteractive, I swear. It’s just that With Jeremy NOT studying for anything anymore, I’m actually able to get around to doing the crafty things I’ve been eyeballing on Pinterest. I just hit up JoAnn Fabrics and hope to get sewing again soon.

I had seen this pin awhile ago and loved the idea. Even though the pinned project just created a magnet board, the pinner’s suggestion of painting it with chalkboard paint was brilliant.  A few weeks later, I saw that one of my favorite fashion bloggers had actually followed through with the plan.

Annmarie really loves the alphabet magnets given to us by Myriam. She was also gifted another magnet set (barnyard animals!) for her birthday and I knew we didn’t have enough room on our fridge. I know that sounds ridiculous but it really is due to the placement of our appliances. We can’t place magnets that stick out on one of the doors because it hits the wall. Fantastic, right?

I thought of the pin I had seen and wanted to install something similar. We just upgraded our TV stand and were able to pack away a lot of things. I’ll have to do a post on that sometime because I love organization. While we aren’t completely organized, we are taking steps in the right direction and it makes me SO HAPPY.

Anywho.

We went to wal-Fart to pick up the infamous “oil drip pan”. I didn’t really understand how large it would be until we were at the store. This thing is massive. But I was afraid that a cookie sheet would be too small. And since the pan was only like $10, I figured if we hated it – it wasn’t like a huge investment (and we could just return it, I suppose).

Our supplies:
Paint supplies
Jeremy noticed that the chalkboard paint said to use a foam brush or roller for the paint. I didn’t want to spend any more money on this project because I am CHEAP and was relieved that I had some foam brushes from a previous project.

The oil drip pan:
Oil drip pan (before paint)
For size context, the oil drip pan is sitting in front of my washer and dryer. This thing is huge. We had to wipe it down a few times to get rid of the light greasy coating.

After 1 coat of chalkboard paint:
Chalkboard paint (1st coat)

I’m happy that I read Jen’s blog and she noted that she had to do 4 coats. If I hadn’t, I probably would have been really worried about the outcome of the project. So take comfort in knowing that the first coat will be incredibly streaky. It will take you about 4 coats to get a thick and even looking finish.

The final product:
Magnetic chalkboard

I didn’t feel like snapping a photo with the “good camera” and then uploading it. This photo was taken with my phone.

We adhered the pan to the wall using velcro.

See the strange lines of chalk on the pan? I was trying to show Annmarie how to use chalk.  Those are Annmarie’s works of art.   She seemed like she really understood chalk at first but every subsequent attempt to draw on the board was ruined by her trying to eat the chalk.

We used to keep a pack & play with a changing table in this spot but since we didn’t really need the giant pack & play (it was eating up precious real estate in our house), we thought we could use this space as a nice little play area in our dining room/living room. Although who are we kidding. The entire house is Annmarie’s play area.

Nannersp

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Pinteractive: DIY Fabric Bins

I have to say, Nanette‘s Pinteractive challenge.  It is definitely keeping me motivated to try things (instead of always aimlessly pinning lots and lots of things and saying, “I should do that someday”).  Hopefully I’ll get to a sewing project soon but this is one step closer to sewing since it dealt with fabric.

This is kind of cheating.  I actually didn’t “pin” this (although I did just pin this for the sake of this activity).  I’m an avid reader of this blog, I Heart Organization, because I LOVE organization.  I envy her ridiculously organized house.  She posted this simple project and I thought, “what a great idea!  I can do that.”  So I set out to do it this weekend (and then I pinned it about 10 minutes ago so I can consider this a Pinteractive activity).

This project entailed covering cardboard boxes in fabric and using it as toy storage.  With Annmarie’s toy collection expanding rapidly, we were running out of spaces and places to put her toys.  I didn’t want to continue buying baskets (because I am cheap and our house is going to be overrun with baskets) so I loved this idea.

We had the perfect cardboard box (it held all of Jeremy’s bar prep material).

I purchased fabric (that was only $3.97/yard from Wal-fart) and spray adhesive.

I probably should have read the blogger’s instructions better because I definitely just winged it.  I’m sure there were better ways and I definitely inhaled a large amount of that spray adhesive (so much so that I thought I had damaged my brain because I couldn’t speak in full sentences for the rest of the day).  But I’m mostly happy with the results.

Here’s the box I started with:
cardboard box

After adhering the first strip of fabric:
Halfway done

The finished product:
A new box?

I’m only mostly happy with it because I think it looks like one of those open wrapped boxes you see around the holidays (when people are collecting toy donations).  The blogger had added grommets to her boxes with rope handles.  That detail added a really nice finished look that made the boxes look more like bins (and not wrapped boxes).

I’m too cheap to buy a grommet maker thingy (although Jeremy informed me that his mom has one).  If I can borrow one, I think I’ll add handles.  But it is serving its intended purpose so that’s all that matters for now.

Nannersp

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Pinteractive: No Heat Curl

If you’re like the rest of the internet (the ones with vaginas) – then you’ve probably already encountered the magic of Pinterest.  It is a world that fools you into thinking that you’re a magnificent baker, expert craftster and Project Runway designer all at once.  You feel like you can conquer the world with a spatula, glue gun and sewing machine.

And then you spend hours sometimes just trolling through pages (pins) of amazing crafts and see that you’ve pinned a TON of things that you swear you’ll do someday only to not ever actually do it.

Thanks to Nanette, she’s come up with a great idea to get us motivated to actually start carrying out our pins through her Pinteractive link-up.

I’ve actually carried out a few things I’ve pinned but they’re old news now.  Instead, I’ll show you what I did somewhat recently.  You’ll have to excuse the crap pictures but I wasn’t sure if this would turn out well or not so I didn’t bother getting out the good camera. 

Anyone that knows me knows I am incredibly lazy when it comes to my hair.  It has reached trailer park lengths and I really need to get it cut.  However, I’ve had short hair before.  I had short hair for years and it is a high maintenance cut for me.  I like to keep my hair long because it means I can pull it back.  Don’t argue with me.

Sometimes, however, I feel a little sassy and try different things with my hair.  But now that I have a very mobile 1 year old, I can’t waste time tinkering with my hair.  When I saw the “No Heat Curl” on Pinterest, I was sold.  The Paper Mama has posted other helpful hair tips (I’m a big fan of the sock bun) so I had faith that this wouldn’t be a huge waste of time or anything.

I found a fabric headband in my stash of hair accessories.  Since I’d be sleeping in it AND wrapping my hair around it, I didn’t want to use my rubberish elastic headband.

Hair wrapped up in headband

This wasn’t difficult to execute.  Although I didn’t put my hair up slightly damp post shower.  I am not a night shower person.  I need a shower in the morning to wake up and feel refreshed.  Instead, I ran water over my hair brush and brushed my hair so that it was slightly damp.

I also struggled a bit with my mostly grown out bangs.  They were much shorter than most of my hair and I worried about how the pieces would lay if I curled it.  So I followed what the Paper Mama did and just wrapped the lower portion of my bangs.

Here was the result in the morning.
Hair post-no heat curl

When I woke up, I noticed the headband had slid up past my hairline.  I knew this would cause some weirdness with my hair and I was right.
hairline after no-heat curl

But overall, I was pleased with the new body my hair had since it is normally stick straight and quite limp.

I wish I could report how long the curl lasted in my hair but after having it down for 10 minutes and getting attacked with some static (caused by the super dry winter air) – I immediately pulled it up into a bun.  Granted, my bun was now a cute somewhat messy looking topknot so I was happy with that.

I’d definitely try this again with sort of shorter hair and in the spring/early summer.

Are you on Pinterest?

Nannersp

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Childproofing – Hide, Block and Lock

Quick update – AM’s middle of the night wake-ups have seemed to gone away for the most part. I appreciate the comments and after much searching online, followed the advice of many parents and stopped picking her up out of the crib. Putting her back down (since she’s usually standing and crying) and just rubbing her belly had her falling back asleep within 10 minutes. Hallelujah (although I’d be happier if she just slept through the night).

And now…

Big news, people – AM is walking!

I realize she isn’t the most graceful creature (and while it isn’t entirely obvious, she seems to really dig doing a side step). I know it’ll take more practice for her but what this means is…

… SHE IS WAY MORE FRICKIN’ MOBILE.

Not only is she walking, she enjoys (and I mean throws a tantrum if you try to stop her) crawling up the stairs.

Ooh what's this?

We have a somewhat open stair case (see picture) so this is really scary.
IMG_20120121_100458.jpg

Due to the setup of the stairs, a typical baby gate won’t work. We’re looking around but so far I’ve had to resort to this:
My temporary baby gate
(please excuse the mess – Hurricane Annmarie terrorized the living room and I quickly had to move the pack & play in front of the stairs)

So between the mobility, desire to risk her short little life on unsecure steps… she also loves to get into drawers and cabinets.

I mentioned that we installed the safety latches (similar to these) and they don’t seem to work on all the drawers.

And then I presented the dilemma with the kitchen cart. Well I took your advice and bought some tension rods and sewed some curtains. Apparently hiding things makes them magically childproofed.
kitchen cart curtain

She couldn’t get enough of trying to pull things off of these shelves but now hasn’t bothered to touch the cart.

I also did this with the wine tower. Before she would always pull the bottles out and now she doesn’t even touch it:
Curtain for wine cabinet

(Did you notice that I used the same fabric from the cart and combined it with the kitchen curtains? I did this because I didn’t have enough of the kitchen cart fabric but I like the look – it makes it fancier.)

And here’s a better view of the kitchen curtains. I’m still not sure how I feel about the bunching.
kitchen curtain

So that’s it. That’s how we’ve childproofed so far. I’m looking for a gate that is only 23″ in height (or at least adjustable to be that short). We have gates at the top of the stairs and the top of the basement stairs since a standard gate would fit (actually – the gate to the basement stairs was installed to keep the dogs out).

Feel free to leave a comment about how AM clearly looks like she’ll be a star athlete (that will be awarded college scholarships and multi-million endorement deals) judging by her wobbly steps or how amazing my curtains look and how I should try out for Project Runway: Housewares.

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New Kitchen Curtains

Baltimore is all in a tizzy today about the local football team playing in some big game this weekend (The Ravens are in the playoffs? I don’t know – I don’t follow football). But I’d like to take a small break from all this “purple pride” to bring you something even MORE exciting… my kitchen curtains!

I was on a roll with sewing and I’ve since slowed down a bit. This is mostly due to the fact that I’m just tired! But I did manage to finish up the kitchen curtains (a project that was started a couple of weeks ago but just finished the other night).

I snapped these pictures with my phone so the quality isn’t great (and strangely the light makes everything look very yellow:


I sewed this door curtain first (around the beginning of December). I screwed up the measurement of the curtain because… well, I don’t know. I just wasn’t paying close attention and thought I was measuring a specific width but actually had measured it too narrow. Luckily, my measurement was just enough to cover the actual window in the door with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. I wanted this to be wider and wasn’t pleased with it initially but it has since grown on me.


The window curtain took forever to complete. I had sewn the rectangle to cover the actual window but was up in the air about how I wanted the curtain to hang. I finally decided on sewing the 2 strips of fabric to kind of roll (er… bunch) the curtain up for a decorative effect. I’m on the fence about it but Jeremy said he likes it. Actually he didn’t even notice it when he came home so I’m not sure what that says about it.

My next project is sewing a curtain for this kitchen cart:

The open shelving is very appealing for a mobile baby that likes exploring. I try to block some of the cart with this walkabout activity center thing but AM is smart than me and knows how to move it.

I’m hoping putting a curtain will take away the appeal of this shelf but can’t figure out how I would attach the curtain. Jeremy suggested velco but I can see that falling off easily and annoying me. Any ideas?

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