Apartment no. 4.

I’ve been thinking about our apartment for the last few days and realized that this is the fourth place where we’ve lived in slightly less than three years of marriage. And we’re going to have to move again before the baby’s born. Needless to say, I would be very happy if we could settle down for more than twelve months in our next location.

These photos are prompted by (a) a promise I made months and months ago to the fam to take pictures of our apartment and (b) our recent trip to Ikea, which solved a growing storage problem that left stacks of books and cds in the corners of our living room. I deemed these stacks not photo-worthy, so I waited until after the new shelving went up. I also wanted to overcome the lethargy against decorating that I always feel when I know that I’m going to have to move again soon-ish (is it just me, or does anyone else have this problem?) so some organizing and cleaning was just what I needed.

Our apartment is a 600 sq. foot one-bedroom and it’s got a pretty decent layout. We have a little storage room out back that lets us stash luggage and some boxes out of sight, a big bedroom closet, and a completely stuffed linen closet. Not bad for a little place, eh? Other than my gripe about the bedroom not being wide enough to fit a nightstand on other side of the bed, I have no complaints about the size or layout. I’m not sure how we’d fit a crib in here, but the state of Florida is solving that problem for us by declaring that we can’t have three people in one room.

This is the view down the little hallway from the bedroom. (See my Port2Port press calendar/splurge on the wall?) The kitchen is to the right and not exciting enough to warrant a photo.

Looking down the (short) hallway.

This is looking back toward the hallway from the living room. Yes, we have a ginormous tv — someone gave it to us, and we really, really appreciate their generosity. In our next place, however, I think we’re going to try to move it somewhere else or put it in a cabinet so it doesn’t dominate the living room quite so much. I hate it when all the living room furniture has to be carefully arranged so that you can see the tv.

Dining area and hard-to-escape tv.

This is the chair that I got for $45 at an antique store in Fairhope, AL. It met all my criteria: small, fairly comfortable, neutral, and mid-century. I love the way that the arms have the same kind of swoop as our couch. It also happens to have almost the exact same upholstery as the couches I grew up with so I get some warm, fuzzy nostalgic feelings when I look at it.

New thrifted chair.

This is our new + improved shelving area. We came home from our original trip to Ikea (in August) with high hopes that all our books would fit on one shelf and all our cds in one cabinet. And they did, for a while. But expansion is inevitable when you live with a teacher and music-collector, so we caved and got seconds. I’m hoping we can make it another nine months before we have to get thirds.

Improved storage.

This is the only tiny arrangement I allow myself anymore or I would come home with all sorts of vases and whatnots from the thrift store. The crinkly brown vase was brought back for me from Vietnam (thanks, Cat!) and the awesome green chair is from Laurie.

My favorite chair.

This desk was the subject of a stressful saga that I don’t think I related on this blog. As part of the previously mentioned August trip to Ikea, we came home with what we thought was the perfect teacher arrangement: a little sideways Expedit shelf and simple desk. Unfortunately, in our hurry to check out we grabbed the black/brown shelf and birch finish desk attachment, a mistake that seems very easy and practically inevitable to anyone who has ever been to Ikea. I happen to think that this combination looks particularly hideous, so I spent several days laboriously spray-painting the desk white since I knew I’d never match the black/brown. To make a long story short, the spray-painting also looked hideous (some spots were shinier than others even though I gave it three careful coats) and I ended up covering the whole thing with Martha Stewart’s faux bois contact paper. Not a perfect solution, but better than the other two variations.

The moral of the story: if you are shopping at Ikea, carefully check your box before you check out. Especially if you live 300 miles away.

Desk + Marimekko.

The dining table + chairs are also from Ikea and I love them lots. I’d wanted a Docksta table for a while and I think it looks so fresh and clean when there aren’t any books, papers, mail, sewing projects, or art supplies on it (I’ll let you guess how often that happens).

An unusually clean dining table.

This is our little living room again, as modeled by The Beans. I’m about to trade out the battered coffee tables for some grey upholstered ones from Target (they have a great home goods sale going on right now!) that will be much nicer for baby to pull herself up on someday. Grey will also–hopefully–push the living room in a nice neutral direction, which is where I’m hoping to go in our next apartment. We ended up with a lot of bright red and blue this time which is not bad but not what I want in the long run. I’m thinking about moving my prized Calder print (currently above the tv) into the baby’s room, along with the red cabinet. The navy blue Marimekko fabric above the desk will be taken down and replaced by a big canvas painting after I finish the one I’m planning for the bedroom, and I think I want a big big photo above the dining room table. I still love Marimekko, but I want to try to paint or photograph something a little more subtle and unique.

Our little living room.

And speaking of photography, I am waiting for a Nikon D40 with my name on it to show up any day now. (Insert happy dance.) I cannot WAIT to finally get this camera. I just started teaching a semester-long photography class to 9th and 10th graders, so I am neck deep in aperture and shutter speed anyway and it will be so nice to have a digital camera with a decent lens and some manual controls.

Better photos should be coming soon to a blog near you!

Congratulations, Dr. Timothy Marston.

This is a shout-out to my genius brother, who just (successfully) completed his Ph.D. thesis defense yesterday. He took on a ridiculously complicated subject — something about acoustics and microphones and lots of calculus — and pulled the whole thing off in very good time. Wow. I am well on the way to being the least-educated member of my immediate family with only a lowly B.A., which is nicely humbling.

(Oh, and did I mention that he’s artistic? And musical? And good-looking? And has a nice postdoc position? Too bad he already has a great girlfriend…)

The school where I teach started a new semester this week, which means that some most of my time has been taken up by teaching stuff. When the semester flipped over I got a new set of five classes, which means lots of new names to learn and projects to plan. I know that I will eventually get into the swing of things, but these first couple of days have been pretty tiring. In my somewhat scattered state I cleverly forgot to submit my grades this morning, but someone noticed and bailed me out.

Husband needs the computer now so I guess I’d better go. If I finish the sewing project and revive my scanner there might be nice photos soon — I also picked up some more cute dresses at the thrift store the other day, but only one is vintage. They were kind of overpriced, but now that I know that le bebe is a girl I don’t feel bad spending more than $1 per dress.

Southern-style thrifting.

I’ve said before that the thrifting here isn’t that great and that hasn’t changed. However, with enough persistance you can still luck out at our local Goodwill. I confess to buying a few baby items before I ever got pregnant, but as soon as I found out we were expecting I started looking in earnest. (No, we don’t know yet if we’re having a boy or a girl. But at 99 cents apiece, I decided to start a dress + romper stockpile that can be saved for future babies if they don’t work for this one.)

Little sailor suit.

This is one of the few boy-ish outfits I’ve found so far…is it just me, or is it much harder to find cute clothes for boys?


I think this little sailor suit is soooo cute, though, that I’d probably put it on a girl with white patent leather shoes.

Shirt with blue piping.

You can’t tell in the photo, but this shirt has adorable blue piping around the collar.

Handknit sweater.

I always always look for handknits — I figure that each sweater I find saves me 25 hours of knitting. I found another one today that’s also yellow but is worked differently around the collar and sleeves.

Cardigan with flowers.

This little vintage sweater has tiny pink roses on the front. (Lish, for some reason it reminds me of one of yours…did you have a grown-up version of this?)

Gingham + smocking.

This brand-new smocked dress came with a little sun hat and bloomers. All for 99 cents.

Baby Dior.

This Baby Dior outfit will go with all of the Daddy Dior shirts that husband has been collecting for $3 apiece.

The pink romper.

One of my favorite smocked pieces ever! I thought it was vintage, but then I discovered that this sort of style is still popular in the south — our local Dillards and children’s boutiques have little white smocked dresses and rompers for $30 and up.

I heart smocking.

This last romper is (I think) my very best find.

The yellow romper.

Check out the giraffes!

Embroidered giraffes.

I could put this on a boy or girl baby, right? Because I might not be able to put it in a box if we have a boy.

Woman has new sewing machine…

…feels that she can accomplish anything.

This would be the headline for my day yesterday. After trying with mixed success to clean the apartment, work on lesson plans, etc., I gave in and spent the entire day sewing. Result: four new pillow covers, a gumdrop pillow, and a new curtain for the bedroom. Not bad, eh?

I can blame the sewing frenzy on my first project, a little pillow for Bean’s crate. She has been sleeping on a ratty old towel for some time so something soft and pretty was in order.

A pillow for the Beans.

The fabric came from a little quilt shop in Bellevue, WA, I think. And now that I’m looking at it, I vaguely remember that half of it technically belongs to my mum (sorry mom!). But isn’t it bright and pretty? And wouldn’t the leftovers make a cute little girl’s dress…?


Because my new machine has some embroidery stitches, it was absolutely essential to try one out and add a scalloped edge. I am sure that Sabina appreciates my attention to detail.

Nice and squishy.

At least I got the level of squishyness right.

So, fueled by the success of the dog pillow I moved on to one of my long-term goals: recover the dreadful brown-and-tan zebra print pillows that came with our sofa.

Sewing for the living room.

Side note: as I was scrutinizing our couch prior to embarking on this project, I noticed that the left side of the couch is distinctly closer to the floor than the right side. You can see it if you look at the photo hard enough. This is VERY displeasing, especially since the salesman who sold us the sofa gave a really long spiel about quality and took all the cushions off and jumped on the springs for emphasis. I am going to see about that warrantee.

Second side note: didn’t Josh give me a lovely red knitted blanket for Christmas?

New cushion covers #1.

The pleasantly dotted fabric came from Joann’s, of all places. I was surprised to find something I liked so much there. A few days after I bought the fabric some friends and I discovered a GIANT interior decorating fabric store not too far from here, but even after wandering around for a long time I didn’t find anything that would go in our living room as well as this stuff. (See what I mean about that awful zebra print?)

New cushion covers #2.

I bought the white fabric as option b so I could swap the covers from time to time but ended up using it on a set of down pillows I bought at Ikea a while back. Since these pillows aren’t washable I added a placket and two cute buttons on the back. In doing so, I discovered that button holes — which I have always dreaded and have been known to sew by hand — are a breeze on my new machine. Seriously. You don’t even have to measure the button, you just pop it in the back of the button hole foot, move a little lever, and presto — the machine sews one that’s just the right size! This was a very liberating discovery and opens up new realms of sewing for me as I have heretofore avoided most projects involving buttons (and zippers, but I have new hope that those will be easy as well).

New gumdrop pillow.

The most complicated project of the day, however, was my Amy Butler gumdrop pillow (and even this wasn’t that hard). I won it and a few other patterns on that Decor8 inspiration board contest way back when, and this was always the one I was most keen on.

Very dotty.

My vision was to make a sort of soft ottoman to rest pregnant feet on, but this is a tad too squishy for that. I might add another bag of stuffing, or I might use it with the super-sweet chair I just scored today since it’s lower to the ground.

Isn’t it just so cute, though? Even if I didn’t get all the lines just perfect? I feel like this pattern might be really useful to make pillows for the baby’s room in the future…kind of like a bean bag, but cooler.

Tummy rub time.

Of course, all of this sewing and photo-taking was interspersed with a lot of tummy-rubbing. Husband is out of town for a while so Sabina and I are having a lot of bonding time. I think that when it’s just the two of us, she has a little memory lapse to the good ol’ days when we were sharing an adorable little apartment in Providence, RI. I do miss that place — the house was built in the 1920s and had nice molding and newly-refinished floors. Anyhow, back in the day I had no one but a dog when I came home so she got lots and lots of lovin’. She has since learned to settle for less, but I think she’s secretly pleased when she’s my “only child” again.

Not for long, little Bean.