June 10, 2015

Another Break

Apologies for the radio silence.  Unfortunately, I've been dealing with a family emergency.  I am anxious to blog again, to regain some semblance of normalcy (and share the fun DIY tutorials I have banked!), but I think it might still be a week or two before I can - I will probably post something on Instagram first.  Being almost completely offline for weeks feels so weird, I might need to ease back into it.  But I noticed today that some of you have reached out via email, Instagram and through blog comments to check in with me, and your thoughtfulness means a lot to me.

Thanks for sticking with me.  I miss you!

May 22, 2015

Wash Dry Clean Only Cashmere at Home (and De-Fuzz it too!)

I'm going to ignore the fact that, in the last couple of weeks, we've seen snow flurries.  There have been gloriously warm, sunny days too, so I'm going to focus on those.  There could be a blizzard tomorrow, but I'm still going to go through the motions of spring, which includes laundering, de-fuzzing, mending, and then gleefully shoving my winter woolens to the back of my closet.

Most of my winter sweaters are cashmere and I blame Winner's (the Canadian equivalent of T.J. Maxx).  Once they started introducing cashmere at affordable price points, I was hooked.  Now anything else, even the softest merino wool - heck, even cheap cashmere - feels itchy.  Even at discounted prices cashmere sweaters (and scarves!) are expensive enough to make me want to care for them.  But I refuse to dry clean - what a hassle!  Instead, I launder all of my dry clean only woolens at home, using Eucalan no rinse delicate wash (which you can also use for lingerie, down jackets, baby clothes - any delicates).

How to Use Eucalan No Rinse Delicate Wash in a Top Loader:

I have a top loader washing machine, so I just fill it with tepid water, add a cap or two of Eucalan, let it agitate for a minute to mix up the soap, add my wool items, and turn off the machine to let everything soak for a couple of hours.  I squeeze the items a bit, mid-soak, to work the soap through.  Although a 15 minute soak is the minimum, I find a couple of hours does a better, more thorough job.  (It might be psychological.)  Then I set the machine to spin (no rinse needed) and let the garments dry on a collapsible dry rack (which Szuka promptly investigates, so she can deposit fuzzies from her disemboweled toys onto my freshly washed woolens).

How to Use Eucalan No Rinse Delicate Wash by Hand:

You can also just soak a sweater in a basin and then gently squeeze (not wring) it out by hand, which is what I did as an apartment-dweller.

I actually despite my clothes drying rack because it broke the first week we bought it (in 2007), but I can't find a good replacement.  Dry racks either just have bars, like this, which are good for socks and undies but not sweaters, or they are this mesh style (which my Mom has), but it takes awhile to set up/put away.  So I'm stuck with this broken one because it has the magic combo of collapsing easily like a regular rack but it has three little mesh "shelves".  I am considering ordering this hanging style to give it a whirl (but this one teases me with its one measly mesh shelf).  Honestly, I'm also thinking of just DIYing the best darn dry rack the world has ever seen.

Of course, you can also just lay a sweater on a towel to dry and avoid this agony.

How to Customize the Scent of your Eucalan:

I always find Eucalan in shops that sell knitting supplies and yarn.  I did some sleuthing, though, and found a big unscented jug online for just over $50 (right here) and a 16.9 oz bottle for $8 (right here) - which is a lot less than what I paid.  It comes in different scents, like grapefruit lavender, jasmine, and eucalyptus (you can even try a sample pack), but I chose unscented this time, so I can customize it.  I decanted some of my colossal jug into a smaller bottle, added a few drops of vanilla essential oil, and now my sweaters smell like cake.  Heavenly. 

How to De-Pill and De-Fuzz Wool:

A downside to soft woolens is how many pills and fuzzies develop, which makes even the prettiest sweater look shabby, so I use a sweater shaver.  You just turn it on and gently move it across the surface.  I put my hand under the sweater so the shaver is working across a smooth surface.

Even though there are literally hundreds of styles of sweater shavers on the market, I don't think a lot of people I know use one, because I'm constantly affronted by pilly sweaters.  A few relatives are terrible offenders and I'm tempted to accost them with a shaver one day - but it's a fairly distinct buzzing noise, so I'd have to work quickly. 

A Warning About Sweater Shavers:

One tip, though, if I've now shamed you into wanting to de-fuzz your woolens: I bought a sweater shaver from The Superstore a few years back that totally chopped holes in my favorite sweater!  A little weary now, I use sweaters shavers manufactured in the 80s and 90s.  I think that one year every single person who celebrates Christmas in North America got one as a stocking stuffer, so you can find them pretty easily in thrift stores - normally in the little section of bagged up things.  I'm currently hoarding three different models, and all of them work perfectly.  If you do buy one, read some Amazon reviews before committing, and then test it on a few crummy articles of clothing first - keep the packaging in case you need to return it.

Eucalan is Made in Canada and you know how I feel about things made in Canada!!  Yaaaaaay!  Plus it's biodegradable.  Now that my winter stuff is squared away (I did the same song and dance in the front hall closet, cleaning and packing away boots), it's time to find my swim suit...

May 21, 2015

Sconce Mirror Sconce Mirror Sconce

Many of you have been with me since I was working on my PhD.  After all that schooling, you would think I might be a sparkling conversationalist, right?  Nope.  For the last weeks (okay, months), anyone who talks to me gets about ten minutes to blather on about whatever non-bathroom topic they favor before I pounce on them with a dizzying array of questions.  Do you think I should go with chrome or brushed nickel?  Should I buy this sconce or this sconce?  Sconce mirror sconce mirror sconce, or sconce mirror sconce sconce mirror sconce?  Or no sconce?  Who did your tile work?  Is this too tall for a stone backsplash?  What half of this quartzite slab do you like better?  Do you know anything about towel warmers?

Don't tell my friends and family that you got to hear about tweed, my office, agate coasters, and even a funny Szuka story to break up the bathroom monotony - I haven't been so kind to them.  There has been no reprieve.

The bathroom reno is coming along, slowly but surely.  You'd think most of the decision-making would be done by now, but I have this sinking suspicion it will never end.  I recently splurged on something fabulous and made a pretty big adjustment to the plan.  Originally I wanted sconce, round mirror, sconce, round mirror, sconce.  An extended version of the two bathrooms, below.  Cute, right?

Sarah Richardson
My Domaine
I picked out the Purist Sconce by Kohler, so the finish would match the faucets perfectly (matchy-match-match).  But when I measured everything out, there wasn't room for that arrangement unless the mirrors were very skinny rectangles, or we ditched one sconce and then mounted the remaining two very high, like in this bathroom (although I think they still have more room to play with than us).  We didn't have room for any gaps between the tower and the first sink, like in this bathroom, because we wanted to maximize the storage in the walnut cabinetry I picked out.

I jettisoned the sconce idea and decided to go with lights above the round mirrors, but then I saw Kristin's bathroom makeover.  She used the purist sconces and they look as good as I thought they would.  I know that many people have grown weary of sponsored posts on blogs, but sometimes I like when brands partner with bloggers to review products.  I appreciate the chance to get a better look at items I'm considering purchasing, especially because many stock photos of products don't have a context, or are heavily edited, so it's difficult to get a good feel for how something will look when it's installed/used.  Seeing Kristin's photos definitely sold me.

Bliss @ Home
Bliss @ Home
Those SCONCES!  So good.  And there's a nightlight in the bums.

I decided that I had to make them work.  I didn't relish the idea of super skinny mirrors though and, truthfully, once we start dismantling the bathroom, I realized that I really didn't want to part with my large sheet mirror at all.  I've grown accustomed to how much light it bounces around, which is nice in our bathroom which, although it has a window - luxury! - isn't terribly bright.  Without that big mirror, it felt a lot smaller and darker.  So I decided to go with something a little nutty.  We're going to keep a large frameless sheet mirror (we'll get a new one cut to fit the space) and mount the sconces directly on the mirror, like so:

My Paradissi
How to Decorate
I know that many folks don't love large, unframed mirrors; they are often dismissed as "builder's basic," but I happen to like the look - as long as it's a LARGE mirror.  I think it suits the modern, mid-century mod space I'm crafting.  But, more to the point, I want to push the sconces as far to the edges of the mirror as possible (with the third in the middle) so they don't obstruct our view of our lovely mugs in the mirror.  Plus, I don't want to pull attention from the gorgeous grain of the walnut, the busy quartzite counters, or the aqua sinks (yay!).  The vanity area will pack a punch, so a simple mirror situation - as opposed to a frame in yet another material - won't compete for attention.

If you're a little dubious about my frameless mirror choice, I promise - it can look really good.  In fact, many of the inspiration photos I've been sharing throughout the bathroom planning process boast this look.  I'm excited but also a tad nervous.  We're got a lot of the wiring changes done, but we still need to move the wiring for the new sconces, which means some very, very, careful measuring.

Oscar V
Desire to Inspire
Design Milk
Habitually Chic
Desire to Inspire
I'll share reno progress photos soon, but right now it's just bare studs and wiring, so it's hardly riveting.  Although I did get an exciting delivery yesterday (aqua sinks, be still my heart)!
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