knitting it up in a big way

FO: Octopus!

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I made an octopus! Jill was working on one when we met for coffee. I’d forgotten my own knitting, so I hopped in on the tentacle production and immediately admired the sculptural cleverness of this pattern.

 

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Look at that well designed bulbous head! Look at those wiggly little tentacles! Admittedly, there’s some pipe cleaners for a little extra wiggle assistance, but the short rows that shape the tentacles create their own bias, which is kind of brilliant!

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Octopus <– Ravelry Project Page

Pattern: Octopus by Hansigurumi

Yarn: Ewetopia Pashm DK in storm sky (so soft and squishy and dreamy!)

Madelinetosh unicorn tail in hot hot hot pink (not my usual thing but such a fun accent color!)

Needles: US size 2 (1.75mm)

Others: I used some stuffing for fluffiness, and pipe cleaners for wiggliness.

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I would absolutely knit this again. In fact, writing this blogpost has made me want to knit one immediately.

New apartment

After my whole daydreamed redesign of our bedroom, we moved! I’d already started implementing little things, and documenting the room ‘Before’ the change when we found out that our landlord was selling. Suddenly, I didn’t feel quite so motivated to make changes to the bedroom. So… alack! Twas all for naught!

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We took one look at this place, with it’s huge beautiful windows, abundance of natural light, deco detailing, and decided yes, this was our new apartment.

We moved in September 1, and I’ve been busy unpacking!

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I kind of hate pictures with so many unpacked boxes in them, but hey, it’s totally the truth. I went around taking pictures of a few areas in the mean time, though:

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Unpacking the kitchen was my first priority. Gotta be able to eat and drink! Putting up my magnetic knife rack was a big one, as it turned the room from A kitchen to MY kitchen. This is by far the smallest room in the place (I think it’s possible it’s smaller than the bathroom, honestly), so I was worried about organizing it.

New place!!!

We put some shelves in this shallow closet to make it a pantry, which freed up all of the cabinets for china and cookware.

New place!!!

There’s limited counter space, so I’m being very picky about what is allowed to take up that space. Coffee is a must, though! The microwave is hidden away in a closet right now. We’ll see if it actually gets any use in there.

New place!!!

It felt sooo good to unpack our books. This made it more of a home than unpacking the kitchen or my clothes. Also, as a note, our local Binny’s was really nice about letting us grab a handful of boxes anytime we asked, and wine/beer boxes are perfect for books! You can’t pack them too full, because they are fairly small, so they never get too heavy, and they are traditionally a little more structurally sound because they’re made for heavy product!

New place!!!

If you have eagle eyes, you might note that the desk is already on a different wall than it was above. I expect things will change as we actually live in and use the space. I’m trying not to hang anything on the walls until I feel like the furniture is a little more finalized…

New place!!!

I’ll probably be organizing things a little more visually, ultimately, but I’m trying to prioritize unpacking right now. This is our couch without the white slipcover, by the way. I should say former couch, as it has moved on to a new home, and you can peek at our new couch here:

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Exciting to be in a new place! With full height ceilings! And lots of natural light! And more space!

Kids who are cooler than me

Right, so let’s be honest, here, I don’t set the standard very high for coolness. Jake and I are as likely to be going to the gym and watching a movie at home on a Friday night as anything else. But I kind of love kid fashion, and every now and again I see a kid who is so damn cool, I just want to be them when I grow up. Kids worth taking fashion notes from:

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Look at that awesome old gold/dark mustard linen shirt! I’d feel so cool rocking that. Plus that flower crown is amazing.

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Accessorizing like mad with a slouchy hat and a casual lollipop, showing us all what it truly looks like to win at life, this girl is my hero.

 

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Looking rustic and hip with her plaid scarf, and knee socks peeping out over her boots. Don’t you want to go take a walk along the lake and let your hair get casually blown out it’s ponytail?

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Right, this outfit isn’t actually ON a kid, but it’s obviously meant for one. But I WISH it was meant for me! Blue polka dot skirt, mustard bag, tweedy jacket, and grey mary-janes, be mine!

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And these girls… are chic-er as tweens than I can ever hope to be.

 

So, anyways. Those are some sartorial inspirations to me.

FO: Sea Flowers

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Do you remember when I fell in love with woollenflower’s cow parsley cowl? Well, I wasn’t joking. I liked it so much that I decided to recreate it for myself. I mapped it out and made a delicate hat with the cow parsley pattern.

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As usual, the biggest challenge was how to decrease in the pattern. I ended up with this rather lovely six pointed star at the crown.

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I went for an extra long brim to maximize the flexibility, and also the warmth. The yarn is quite fine, so even though the base is alpaca, the breeze could get through quite easily. Hopefully making the brim foldable to double it up would help with some of that.

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Sea Flowers hat <–Ravelry Project Page

Pattern: I used the sockhead slouch hat pattern as a base, and the colorwork was inspired by woolenflower’s beautiful cowl.

Needle: US size 2 (1.75mm) circulars

Yarn: Frog Tree Alpaca Wool Fingering (oatmeal)

Thrifted Shetland Wool sweater I unraveled (seafoam)

 

High Five!

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Winner’s Kiss– Fell in love with this series, Marie Rutkoski’s writing, Kestrel and Arin! I started reading it in February, thinking that the third one was coming out March 1st. I finished the second one completely exhilarated and desperately wanting the third one, congratulating myself on timing that out so well… Only to find out that the release date is actually at the end of March, not the beginning. *sigh* I’m a sucker for this kind of thing: you can play Bite & Sting online! It’s a game played in the books that seems kind of… mah jong meets poker to me? Expansive world building is the best!

 

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The work of Natalie Stopka: Natalie is a bookbinder, natural dyer, and marbler (or suminagashi, if you feel like getting fancy about it). I LOVE her work. She makes beautiful books, and ribbons and marbled silk scarves. She has a heavy emphasis on natural dyes, some of which she grows herself. Her bound books are amazingly beautiful. The one pictured above was a copy of The Plant-Lore and Garden-Craft of Shakespeare by Henry Ellacombe (doesn’t he sound like a Jane Austen character?) whose binding was falling apart. So she took it apart, resewed the binding, and created a new cover: “I laid out the cover in formal symmetry as a nod to the embroidered books gaining popularity during Shakespeare’s time, as well as Elizabethan era garden design with its symmetric ‘thick-pleached alleys.’ Each quadrant depicts a plant prominent in Shakespeare’s writing (and thus Ellacombe’s) of particular symbolic meaning: honeysuckle, calendula, burdock, and rose, as well as a pansy on the spine. The linen book cloth as well as embroidery threads and headbanding silk were each naturally dyed with plants foraged in upstate New York. These include oak and birch leaves, apple and cherry barks, and willow fronds.”

Have you ever heard of anything so lovely as that? Her work makes me swoony.

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I was wandering around Madewell the other day wishing I was a millionaire so I could just buy one of everything (okay just half, but still). They have this lovely drapey blouse in several different fabrics that I loved. It looks so breezy and comfortable and summery. It strikes me that I can probably raid my grandpa’s closet for really nicely worn in button downs, chop off the sleeves at about 6″, and roll them up for a similar look!

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I’ve been contemplating and working up to this purchase for a good six months, and I had some leftover money on a Sephora gift card, so I finally took the plunge and bought myself a Naked 2 palette by Urban Decay! The result is that I’ve been excited enough to actually put on makeup before leaving the house recently. I doubt that trend will last very long, but I’m really chuffed to have it. It’s such a great line up of neutrals, I don’t think I’ll need to buy eyeshadow again for years.

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I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but somewhere around the same time that I started dreaming about making changes to the bedroom, I also became mildly obsessed with plants as a part of decorating. You can definitely see the impact in my home oriented pinboard. I’m slowly buying plants and working to make them thrive. My donkey tail succulent and jade plants are doing just fine, and I finally found a string of pearls, but it isn’t quite as happy… I’m hoping it’s just adjusting? Cross your fingers for me!

Unrelated, and deserving of its own blogpost, I’m doing a remix! If you want to follow along in real time, check out my instagram.

a year of us in pictures of us

I usually publish this post around our anniversary in late September, but I’m extra behind in blogging. I’m only going to bother catching up with the ones I want to, and this is among them. I figure it being Valentine’s weekend, this is an appropriate time to post it.

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Stargazing

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A family photo (miss that kitty).

Sometimes we get fancy. #sofancy
Fancy times

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At a wedding.

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With my cousins in New Mexico.

#tbt New Year's Eve. Impromptu get together, kitchen full of food and dishes, dressing up, faded lipstick. Good times.
In a dirty kitchen for New Years. Continue reading

hi, high five!

 

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Full moon shirt: I bought this for myself recently, and I’ve been wearing it as much as I can get away with. It’s in the laundry right now, and I can’t wait to be reunited with it.

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Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner- Finished this recently. It’s the conclusion to the Starbound trilogy. The authors did a visit to a nearby bookstore, so I went out to meet them, and they were fun, and warm, and witty, and I’m glad I did.

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Dope-watched this movie recently, and I LOVED it. In tone, this feels like Risky Business, or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but representing the not-Beverly-Hills version of LA, as opposed to white kids running around their affluent suburbs.

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Bookmaking- One of the classes I’m taking this semester is bookmaking, and I’m looooving it. Getting inspired to do fancy things via pinterest, as always!

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Planning the bedroom re-do has me questing for beautiful hanging planters, like this lovely on etsy.

What have you been doing/seeing/reading/wanting to buy? Anything I’d like?

2015 Reading Challenge

Somewhere in May or so, I was handed a reading challenge for 2015, and I thought ‘hey, why not?’ and I’ve been slowly chipping away at it ever since. I wasn’t strict with myself, I didn’t quite finish and I bent some rules, which I’ll note below. But I got quite far, so I thought I’d share with you, as well as some cursory notes from me! I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks on my commutes and car trips, so I noted those that I found particularly good as well.

This was fun! Because I wasn’t being strict, I didn’t feel any pressure from it, and I started out with one book per prompt, but then decided if they applied to multiple prompts, then so be it. It didn’t really change any of my reading choices, except giving me a little incentive to finish books that dragged on a bit (Handmaid’s Tale, I’m looking at you), and inspiring me when I was in between books.

8 books

1. An author you’d never read before: (14 new authors by my count, I won’t bore you with a list)

2. A book that takes place in your hometown: (None of the books I read took place in my state, much less my hometown.)

3. A banned book: PersepolisSlaughterhouse FiveHandmaid’s Tale have all graced the list of frequently banned books.

4. A book originally in another language: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi  (Originally published in French. This was a re-read; I loved it the first time 10 years ago, and I still love it now)

5. An LGBTQ book: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Non main character Tiny Cooper is truly the shining star of this book)

6. A book written by someone under 30: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid (This is surprisingly difficult to verify, but this was his first book and he looks really young, so… I’m counting it.)

6 books

7. A non-fiction book: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

8. A book with non-human characters: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. (Featured some dragon characters. This was a truly excellent audiobook.)

9. A classic romance: North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell. (Also a re-read. I love this book, and I am moderately obsessed with Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Mr. Thornton. Hand me my fan, ladies, I feel a swoon coming on.)

2015 books

10. An author of the opposite sex: John Green, Gary Schmidt, Kurt Vonnegut, etc.

11. A mystery or thriller: Heist Society by Ally Carter.

12. A book longer than 500 pages: Heir of Fire by Sarah Maas.

13. A book that became a movie: Paper Towns by John Green (I didn’t see the movie though. I heard mixed reviews. Anyone want to weigh in? Also: listened to the audiobook of this, which was pretty good.)

14. A funny book: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (Totally recommend, I loved this. Can’t wait to read her newest!)

5 books

15. A book with a number in the title: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (My first Vonnegut! So much funnier and more surreal than I expected. I listened to the audiobook, which was excellent and read by Ethan Hawke)

16. A book published this year: Ms Marvel Vol 2-3 are the only titles published this year that I read. There’s several titles I’m very excited to read published in 2015, but they keep getting de-prioritized for other titles.

17. A book with a one word title: AttachmentsWingerUnraveling, etc.

18. A book you own but never read: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (I’ve been meaning to read this for quite awhile, as it has been a noted influence on many things I love. I had a really really difficult time being so immersed in the head of a protagonist I wanted to slap out of inaction for the majority of the book. That having been said, the atmospheric creepiness was wonderful, and this did end up being a book where the end justified the means, and that isn’t something I say very often.)

7 books

19. A graphic novel: Wicked + the DivineMs. MarvelLumberjanes (I actually read scads. September inadvertently turned into a graphic novel month for me!)

20. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. (I actually don’t remember which assigned books I skipped out on, so I just assigned this one a ‘classic’!)

21. Based on a true story: El Deafo by Cece Bell. (Wonderful mid grade graphic novel based on the authors experiences growing up deaf but desperately wanting a normal childhood.)

22. A friend’s recommendation: Several!

23. A memoir: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

24. A play: N/A

4 books

25. A trilogy: Raven BoysDream ThievesBlue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater. (Not technically a trilogy, but I counted three in the same series as pretty much the same thing. I adore this series. The final volume will be out in March, and I am looking forward to it and dreading it in equal measures. Oh, the audiobooks for this series are seriously wonderful.)

26. A retelling: CinderScarletCress by Marissa Meyer (Based off of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. Really fun series, and the final book was just released, but I couldn’t remember many details, so I had to re-read! Listened to the audiobooks, which were very well done!)

27. A book you can finish in a day: Any of the graphic novels were easily finished in a day.

28. A sad book: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard and Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Anderson gets major props for handling tough subjects delicately and beautifully)

29. Pulitzer Prize winner: N/A

30. An author with the same initials as you: Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston (shockingly difficult to find an author with the initials EJ! Haven’t tested if this is hard in general, or if I just have a less frequently used combination of letters)

31. A book set in the future: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meghan Spooner. (I love this series, the third one was just released, and I went to a signing by the authors at the beginning of the month!)

2 books

32. A book that came out the year you were born: A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (I really liked this! It was a bit difficult for me to get immersed in, as the style automatically holds the reader at arm’s length, but once I got used to that, this was quite interesting. Definitely a different version of ‘dystopian novel’ than that phrase currently connotes.)

33. A book with magic: Kiss of DeceptionThe Raven Boys (and sequels)

34. A book of poems: N/A

35. A book with a color in the title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.

36. A book with a protagonist of color: Ms. MarvelThis Shattered World, and if you count memoirs Persepolis and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Accomplished: 32/36 ~88%

3 books

Not every book I read fell into one of these categories, so there are a few titles on my goodreads 2015 shelf not mentioned here. I may finish another book before the end of the year, but I sincerely doubt any of them will check off another category from this list. I really enjoyed having the structure of this challenge to encourage my reading habits, so I found another one for next year. I might prioritize some of the prompts that are similar to the ones I missed this year, but other than that, I don’t plan on changing my approach.

 

Did you read any great books this year? Anything I should definitely check out?

FO: Berliner Kindl Weiss and Bouquet Socks

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In the spring I started going down  an internet rabbit hole, which started in pinterest, as many do, and ended up at fringe association’s purple textured shawl in progress. Something about the way the two yarns came together to create a more prismatic, dynamic color absolutely enchanted me. Feeling inspired, I leapt to my stash in search of two similar tones and yardages that I could pair in the same way. When I found them, I was so dang excited, I didn’t even stop to consider an alternative pattern. Though I probably had time, considering that moths had gotten to my Sun Valley Fibers MCN Laceweight and it took me an unnecessarily long time to wind it into a useable center pull ball.

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The name comes from when I was in Germany, where I became mildly obsessed with a Berlin based beer that is called Kindl Weiss. It’s very sour, so they add syrups to sweeten it. I loved the raspberry kindl weiss, and I ended up buying some lace weight yarn from Handmade Berlin that reminded me of it.

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This yielded a larger shawl than I usually knit, having a stash comprised of many many single skeins (I should really kick that habit), but both of these skeins were larger, and the resulting shawl is so warm and soft, and not as dense as I might have feared. I just kind of eyeballed the stripes of the textured and stockinette, and started the garter stitch as early as I dared to have a nice deep garter edge. In a perfect world, it would be a little deeper yet, but I’m fine with this.

Berliner Kindl Weiss <– Ravelry Project Page

Pattern: Textured Shawl Pattern

Yarn: Sun Valley Fibers MCN Laceweight and Yarn Edition Extrageelong Single

Needles: US size 6, 4.0mm

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In the last few years, I’ve been sticking to socks with simpler patterns, knit and purl or shorter repeats. I got a little burned out on complicated patterns that took forever, only to find out that the finished socks didn’t fit my feet. This summer I got an urge to cast on for some super pretty socks, though, and I dug out this skein, which I bought in Cork from Beata. Someday I am going to splurge on one of her clubs, she is absolutely one of my favorite indie dyers. I bought a few skeins of sock yarn, and she mentioned that twist sock wears harder, and is better for socks. At the time, though, I was way too excited to knit something up with my ridiculous pink yarn to not cast on for my candyfloss socks, even though it wasn’t twist yarn.

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I’ve now been wearing these socks for about a month (and more time this week than I should probably own up to), and I can definitely say: they are harder wearing than the Hedgehog Sock yarn. There is much less fuzzing of yarn, and the soles are only just starting to show signs of felting on the bottom. For the record, though, my candyfloss socks seems to wear at a rate that is quite typical of other sock weight yarns. Twist just seems a little hardier is all.

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Bouquet Socks <–Ravelry Project Page

Pattern: Bouquet Socks from the excellent book Toe Up Socks for Every Body

Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock

Needles: US Size 2, 2.75mm

avoidance tactics and/or planning a redesign

You know how sometimes you sit down to do homework, and then 45 minutes later you have a really cohesive plan for making over the bedroom, which has been slightly bugging you as ‘unfinished’ for the last four years?

If you aren’t up on the exact details, I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the basic concepts at play here.

I rearranged the bedroom about three years ago, and in our current apartment, I think it’s about it’s best layout available. I’ve had ideas in the past that involved spending some pretty money on furniture, but I’m reluctant to do that. This isn’t our forever home, I want to wait to buy furniture to fit that space, not this. Right now my plan involves spending money on:

  • painting the walls
  • updating the bedding
  • accessories
  • and in my dreams: buying a new rug

Let’s start with the little stuff, hey?

accessories

Clockwise from left: gauzy white curtains, hanging planters, laundry basket, trailing plants.

Right now we have some random cheap-o roller things on the window, and those will probably stay, but if I put some gauzy curtains that maintain privacy but let in as much light as possible, that’s even better. Plus, real window treatments make a room look considered. Don’t need to buy these, just need a weekend to toss some seams on some gauzy fabric I own.

Hanging planters! I love this pretty brassy one. I bought a copper one at a thrift shop this summer, but it hangs kind of high, so it would be nice to get a second one that hangs a little lower for a layered look.

The real, honest to goodness issue with this room is that it kind of becomes the dumping ground of the apartment. There’s a good amount of storage in the apartment, but it does not come in the form of closets, and there are a few larger objects that don’t fit into the cupboards that make up most of our storage space, namely the vacuum and the laundry basket. I do put the vacuum away in the crawl space, but the apartment gets vacuumed much more infrequently when it’s in there. Ahhhh, well. I don’t think that is going to change. But! Our current laundry basket (large, plastic, white, boring) is slowly dying, and there’s an opportunity here, to replace it with something cuter. I’m looking at this one. Cute, right? Like it could stand around in the corner of a room without screaming ‘pay attention to me this is where the dirty laundry goes’. It’s a little more quietly ‘don’t mind me, just discretely storing things en route to the laundry’.

I bought a donkey’s tail succulent a while back, and not only is it NOT DEAD, but some of the baby leaves that fall off (no matter how gently I try to handle it) ARE PROPAGATING. I need to calm down right now or my sheer excitement will kill it off. Anyways, this plant is a dream hanging plant, and I make a point of fulfilling dreams if I can. Plus maybe a fern? Or a spider plant? To fill/even it out? PS- the image is not a donkey’s tail, it’s a string of pearls, and I want one.

The thing that started this whole line of thinking is that our duvet is old, lumpy, and too small for our bed. Technically it’s a full/queen, but when you have an extra deep mattress, and your duvet barely hangs over the edge by 2″, well… it leaves something to be desired, aesthetically. Up until this point, I’ve kind of been acquiring bedding haphazardly, based on need and good pricing, never with any kind of idea for the cohesive whole. But I think now might be a good time to develop an aesthetic or palette, as I move forward.

duvet

Clockwise, top to bottom: Belgian Linen Duvet Cover, Ikea Bjornloka Duvet, UO Jersey Duvet, Ikea Nypronos Duvet

Belgian Duvet Cover: Well, hella expensive to begin with, and possibly slightly too warm a grey? But I’m drawn to the crinkly cozy casual vibe.

Ikea Bjornloka: That large expanse of pristine white in the middle is just asking for trouble. It makes me feel like I’ll somehow projectile throw something really staining onto the bed somehow. But aside from that, cute.

OU Jersey: I am definitely drawn to jersey sheets. They are so comfy! Hard to find for a deep mattress, though. My main concern is how long this duvet cover is likely to last. Will it sprout tiny holes like all of my t-shirts?

Ikea Nypronos: This is probably the sweet spot of affordable, durable, less stainable expanses of bright white, while still being the greyish base I’m hoping for. You can’t really tell in this picture, but it’s skinny little stripes.

Onto the long term goal: painting the walls. When we originally went green for the walls, I thought we were opting for a soft, herby green with just a hint of saturation. Instead we got a green so bright you could film a movie on it. Which we practically have. Jake has grown fond of it’s saturated hue and the strong visual it can lend, but I don’t find it particularly restful. So our compromise is that he gets to keep it for the duration of PoPS, and then I get to pick the next color.

grey walls

This won’t be happening for a while yet, but a soft pearly grey, with just a touch of warmth sounds really nice to me.

Taken altogether, these images make it seem like I’m going for a really pale space, but there’s a lot of wood furniture and wood trim in our bedroom, so I don’t think in the long run it’s going to be all that ethereal. Hopefully it’ll just calm the space down a little. And there’s no question that there are going to be pops of color. I find it really hard to avoid them. A natural way to provide a little color would be a rug!

rugs

This is probably the most unlikely part of this? Because I keep my eye out allll the time, but rugs are not cheap. Especially not larger, room defining gorgeous rugs like I dream about. But who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky at the flea market and score a wonderful rug. I dream in bold colors and traditional patterns.

So there you have it. Maybe once the semester is over, I can use some of my free time to start working on curtains and hanging plants!


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