What I’m looking at right now. You should see the other side of the living room!
Am completely knackered, so not going to bore with all the details just yet, but let me update you in numbers and pictures… Number of days without a kitchen: 8 Number of sandwiches eaten: 42 Number of arms incredibly sore from sanding and painting three times in one day: 2 (they would be mine) Number of hiccups so far: 6 Most number of trips to the hardware store in one day: 6 Number of cabinets in place: 5 Number of cabinets to still be put into place: 10 Number of taps working: 0 Number of appliances working: 0 Number of holes in the wrong place the electician cut into the wall that was already sanded and painted? 2 Number of flies killed because the doors were open all day every day: 723. Wait. 724 Number of times we’ve fallen onto our butts because the floor is so damn slippery from all the swept up sawdust? Me: 2; Steve: 1; Z: 4 Number of days before my dad can come back and finish putting the kitchen in: 12 🙁 Number of hours before we can get water and power on in the kitchen: oh god please let it be no more than 15!
Day 1: Looking better already!
The mouse’s house (left) and grass growing inside the wall!!
Several floorboards had to be replaced. We nearly had this gaping hole overnight, but luckily the new floor was put in on time.
Day 2: Electrical and plumbing work
Day 5: new walls in and plastered and lights installed
Day 6: dad and his little helper putting together the cabinets. Funnily enough, that plastic hammer worked: teh nails actually went in!
Day 7: Pantry done. The other cabinets on that wall are not flush with the wall yet. Dad needs to come back and put the benchtop on. Am hoping the electrician can connect the oven and cooktop tomorrow. I’m tired of sandwiches and takeaway!
My temporary benchtop!! These are the offcuts from the other side’s bench and the cut out from the sink hole!
And just because I don’t have enough things in my life to keep me busy (!) I signed up to Twitter last week and actually spent longer than two minutes on it tonight working it out. I think I’ve got it. Here is where I’ll be sending all those little quirks, annoyances or snippets of news too minor or time-consuming to blog about. And much excitement is the fact I can SMS the updates and they’ll appear magically on my Twitter profile. How genius. Not sure how long I’ll follow this fad (am really good at losing interest in things – Facebook? I only get on to look at friends photos now!), but for now, you can follow me at twitter.com/belindagraham
Jennifer Fauset of Fauset Photography has put together an auction for her sister who has been trying for years to have a baby. She recently found out that IVF is her best option and to help a little with the enormous financial burden, Sew Obsessed has donated some items to auction away for a fraction of the retail price. Here are pics of the goods. click over to their Facebook Page to start the bidding (bidding ends Oct. 8).
Moda’s Lilly and Will Bundle and Cupcake pincushion
Lot of: Mini Iron, straight pins, fabric circle cutter, fabric markers, measuring tape and Heather Bailey’s smarty girl book bag pattern.
I also donated a couple paper party crowns. Use them for a Bridal or Baby shower, or save it and use year after year for Birthday dinners. (One size fits Baby – Adult) Ahh yes, and what’s more… The shipping is FREE!
There are tons of vendors involved, so check it out. It’s Great way to score some good deals and, of course, help someone fulfill their dream of becoming a Mother.
With the long weekend coming up and the kids all out of school in just a few days, we are ready to jump into summer. The weather here in Toronto hasn’t been the greatest (can we have a week with no rain, please?) but that makes me all the more eager to embrace summer and everything it has to offer.
One thing I am looking forward to is entertaining outdoors. We’re hosting a 50th anniversary party for my parents later this summer and it’s time to get our backyard into tip top shape. Summer parties can present unique challenges so it’s worthwhile to put some thought into how to keep your guests comfortable, especially as the festivities extend from day into night. Here are 5 outdoor entertaining tips to ensure a great time is had by all at your next summer party.
1. Create An Outdoor Dining Room
Moving the party outdoors can be as easy as taking your food out to the patio. But to really set the scene for a memorable summer party, consider creating an outdoor dining room. Treat your patio or deck as you would your finest interior space and outfit it with furnishings and accessories that are inviting and comfortable.
Start with a quality outdoor table and chairs. Chairs with armrests and cushioned seats allow your guests to dine outside and linger in comfort. To add softness underfoot, and to make it easier for chairs to slide in and out on uneven or rough surfaces, place an outdoor rug beneath the table.
If your space is large, create zones throughout your outdoor area, designating spots for dining and for lounging. Consider adding partitions or outdoor screens to bring a sense of privacy and to further define each room. In our backyard, I’ve used Philips Hue Calla Outdoor Bollards around the perimeter of our stone patio. The lights visually separate the dining area from the grass and make the patio seem more grand and special.
2. Decorate With Nature
Summer is a wonderful time to decorate with plants, indoors and outdoors. Though your outdoor dining space might already be surrounded by grass and trees, bringing additional natural elements into your decor can enhance the summertime feel. Here, I’ve used vibrant florals and leafy ferns to decorate the dining area. Their beautiful textures, gorgeous colours, and fresh scents make this outdoor scene come alive.
You don’t have to limit yourself to flowers or plants. Branches cut from the garden and simply placed in a vase can be a dramatic centrepiece, or use rocks, shells and driftwood to create a coastal inspired tableau. I’ve used the natural hues of the wooden lanterns and woven chargers to bring warmth to my table setting.
3. Add Vibrant Colour
Nothing complements the greens of summer better than bright, bold hues. Opt for outdoor tableware or table linens in happy patterns and vibrant colours. A brightly decorated table puts everyone in a party mood. I love a good party theme and outdoor entertaining is a perfect excuse to be creative and have fun with your decor. Think a spicy Mexican fiesta, an ocean blue Mediterranean banquet or Miami pastel brights. Use colourful accessories like hanging lanterns, outdoor pillows, or garden decor to add personality.
4. Use Lighting To Enhance The Mood
Outdoor lighting can play an important role in enhancing the mood of your party. As the sun begins to set, lighting can keep the energy high and the food and drinks visible. Smart outdoor lighting provides enhanced versatility, ensuring you can provide the right backdrop for any occasion.
Previously, I installed Philips Hue Lily Outdoor Spotlights in the backyard. They provide great accent lighting, up light the trees beautifully, and provide added security. With the addition of Calla Bollards, I now have a lighting system fit for entertaining.
Using the Philips Hue app, I’m able to control the lights separately or in tandem. Smart lighting is wonderful because you can adjust the ambiance to any occasion: a big party, an intimate dinner or a moment of relaxation on a late summer night. By adapting the colour and level of the light, you create the right setting to fully enjoy any moment outside.
5. Keep Guests Comfortable
Unlike an indoor party, the environment will have a huge impact on the success of your summer party. There’s two basic things every outdoor party guest wants: to be neither too hot nor too cold, and to keep the bugs away! The first goal is easily achieved by keeping the drinks cooler well stocked and having amenities available. Stock a small tray with sunblock, hand wipes, and stow a basket of throws and blankets nearby for guests to use at their convenience.
Keeping bugs away is a bit trickier. Citronella candles, insect-deterring lanterns, and natural repellants like lavender or peppermint oil can help to keep mosquitos at bay. You can also pre-treat the party zone with repellant sprays. But if all else fails, move the party inside for after dinner drinks.
Whether you’re hosting an intimate dinner on the patio or barbecues every weekend, summer entertaining can be a breeze. Follow these easy outdoor entertaining tips and your next summer party is sure to keep going all night long.
Disclosure: This conversation is sponsored by Philips Hue. All words, photos, and opinions are my own.
Can I use comments from other people’s prior reviews when reviewing a submission to a new journal?
I just had the dispiriting experience of receiving a paper to review from Journal B, that was unchanged from a prior submission to Journal A. The “dispiriting” part of the experience was that the paper was completely unchanged, despite a host of minor and major comments on the paper from all three reviewers for Journal A.
I ended up writing that I was disappointed that the authors had not seen fit to confront the bigger issues in any way, much less correct even the smallest and easiest errors; and then pasted in my previous review. What I wanted to do was paste in the expert reviews from the other two reviewers for Journal A, but I didn’t feel like that was OK.
(If I get the paper back with some revisions, I’ll reevaluate it in light of the Journal A reviews, too.)
I think the behavior of the authors is very questionable, too, and I hope they rethink this strategy. If your paper is desk-rejected by a hoity-toity journal without review, that’s one thing; if reviewers put in hours of effort and give you detailed comments, you goshdarn well should put in an hour or two of your own time before resubmitting.
Why don’t all journals always send all the reviews to all reviewers?
David Koslicki visited my lab yesterday, and I was reminded of the mash and MetaPalette situation from a few years back. Briefly:
I was a reviewer on both the mash paper (Ondov et al. (2016)) and the MetaPalette paper (Koslicki and Falush (2016)) and in my final review of MetaPalette I mentioned the mash paper enthusiastically. (Both were already up on biorxiv.)
At some point later on I sent David an e-mail to follow up on some suggestions I’d had, and we realized that he’d never received the text from my review of MetaPalette. He later told me that he thought that receiving my comments would have accelerated his research by a few months, by pointing him at a new area.
So why didn’t mSystems send him the review text?!
(There are plenty of journals that are guilty of this.
Nature Biotech is one that I’ve noted in the past.)
Isn’t it irresponsible not to make some portion of the reviews public when the paper is published?
Peer reviews often provide important context that can help people understand why the paper is important and interesting. It’s fine and dandy to say that that should all be in the final paper, but that’s a hard task and often papers are space constrained (…for some reason).
I think journals should make reviews public along with the article.
The biggest argument against this is that it might take some work by someone to properly adjust reviews for fixes from earlier versions. A short term fix might be to have a box for “this is the part of the review that I would like to make public if this paper is accepted”.
Why don’t journals behave as if reviews belong to the reviewer?
I no longer review for PNAS, because they started including a provision that I couldn’t make any part of my review available in any form, even anonymously. I can understand that they don’t want reputation laundering (e.g. my previous behavior in posting reviews, which boosts my own reputation while also being a sign of my own privilege), but I see little harm in allowing it to be posted anonymously.
Journals sure are proprietary about work they didn’t pay for. That’s a bigger theme here, I guess 🙂
There is no conclusion other than that peer review seems really broken.
Anyway. Those are my ranty off the cuff comments for today.
At Columbia Construction in North Reading, Massachusetts supporting our clients’ goals in building energy-efficient green buildings is a priority. In fact, several years ago, we established an Energy Division tasked specifically with finding ways for clients to generate renewable solar PV energy, and reduce energy use and operational costs.
While building energy codes continue to raise the floor on minimum performance, the high-performance heights reached by projects pursuing LEED, Zero Net Energy, and other 3rd party verifiable rating and certifications systems demonstrate that a motivated client and team can exceed expectations and end-user benefits.
But our commitment to sustainability goes beyond user benefits. As part of Columbia Construction’s own sustainability evolution, we want to better understand how we can operate more responsibly and sustainably across all projects, during the building process itself.
Lower energy consumption & greenhouse gases
Upon research and reflection, we realized that a big opportunity for construction companies to reduce energy consumption is in temporary lighting during construction. Temporary construction lighting is required on every project, it typically runs 24/7 for safety and security, and unlike the finished lighting, it’s not specified by the client and designers. Temporary lighting during construction is within the control of the construction companies.
We noticed lighting design in our finished projects trending toward all LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) and away from Incandescent, Halogen, and Fluorescent lighting. LEDs allow for more control on the quality of the light and can more easily be selected at specific color temperatures (from yellowish to white to blueish) and also specific brightness measured in lumens (from Latin, literally ‘light’; think illuminate).
In addition to all this added control on lighting quality, LEDs use significantly less energy to produce equivalent light levels. LEDs can save up to 85% on energy compared to Incandescent and 50% when compared to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). No longer should we be thinking about brightness in terms of watts. Watts is actually a measurement of power, a proxy for brightness in incandescent lighting. Now, using the more accurate measure of lumens, we can think about brightness directly in terms of brightness.
Since our electrical grids are still mostly powered with fossil fuels, lowering energy consumption reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions, which is necessary if we are going to be part of a sustainable future.
Human health & safety
The transition from incandescent lighting to fluorescent was an important step in energy efficiency — but also in terms of human health. Mercury is considered one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern by the World Health Organization. The EPA has clarified that less mercury is released into the environment when using CFLs when compared to incandescent lighting.
Power plants burning coal release mercury, so using less energy with a CFL also reduces power plant mercury emissions. Unfortunately, the actual CFL bulbs do contain small amounts of mercury (about 4-5 milligrams). This means that broken CFLs are a potential health hazard and must be disposed of properly and not thrown in the trash. This means that the healthiest solution is energy efficient LED bulbs that last longer and don’t have mercury in them.
Also, LEDs lose less energy to heat and therefore operate at lower temperatures and are less likely to burn workers, melt plastic that comes into contact with them, or start a fire. LEDs are the most durable lighting option with no filaments, and bulbs that are available without glass housing. LEDs can also be produced without the glass housing typical in other forms of lighting. Eliminating the glass housing reduces the risk of cuts from broken glass.
Initially, the higher cost of LEDs limited their adoption, but over the years purchase prices have come way down. US DOE Life-Cycle Assessment research shows that LED lighting improves the quality of lighting, saves energy, and reduces negative environmental impacts when compared to other common lighting options. Life-Cycle Assessment considers not only use, but also manufacturing, transport and disposal at the end of useful life of the product.
At Columbia, we’ve surveyed our electricians and received feedback that supports what we we’re seeing on our job sites. LED bulb cost has come down to the point where cost no longer makes them a ‘non-starter’. The LED bulbs are more expensive to purchase initially, but their longer bulb life and better durability translates to less labor cost to replace broken or burnt out bulbs.
Despite this, many projects had not fully converted to LED and typically still used a mix of incandescent, halogen, CFLs, and LED. We recognized an opportunity to initiate a company-wide policy to reduce the biggest negative environmental impacts from lighting, GHGs related to energy consumption.
The new normal
As of January 2019 at Columbia Construction, all new projects are required to use energy-efficient LED Temporary Construction Lighting on the build site (correct?) to reduce energy use, improve employee safety, and support sustainability in the environment through reducing GHGs and mercury emissions from energy consumption. It’s a simple fix with big benefits.
We’ll continue to review our operations and identify opportunities that are within our control. We can do the right thing for ourselves, our workers and the environment, and be leaders towards sustainable construction practices. In this, we earnestly hope that others in our industry will join us.
This post has been a few months in the making, and I’m so excited to share our review of our new Comfort Works slipcover for our Crate & Barrel Lounge II Sofa!
Oh boy, I’m really excited to share today’s post with you! I have so much to say about couches today (riveting topic, I know), and I’m also sharing the reveal of a little living room refresh we’ve been working on over the last few weeks!
We also have a bit of a unique situation because we have a lovable but incredibly strange Doberman who lives approximately 70% of her life ON OUR SOFA.
I could probably write an entire book on this one strange little animal alone, but the gist of it is that she’s got some personality, ahem, quirks that lead her to be afraid to enter about half of our (already tiny) house. She only ever goes into the living room, our bedroom, and outside. She sleeps on our sofa all night long, and spends a good chunk of the day hanging out on it as well.
So, any sofa we purchase has to be able to handle a lot.
The fabric we got for our Crate & Barrel sofa isn’t really one of their more pet-friendly fabrics. We just went with the standard option, and we learned after a few months that when a giant dog spends hours upon hours sleeping on it every day it’s going to start looking pretty rough pretty quick.
It looked fine from far off. And even up close, it wasn’t bad. But, the fabric had started to noticeably pill, and because of the thick weave it really held on to the dog smell quite a bit. I washed the covers regularly, but every evening when I fell into the sofa after the kids went to bed I was often hit with a big ol’ whiff of dog.
I was feeling really frustrated and worried that this sofa just wasn’t going to work out for us, and then Comfort Works reached out. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re kind of famous for making gorgeous slipcovers for IKEA sofas. They’ve been around for years (and I actually almost purchased on a few years back for our KARLSTAD!), and they’ve recently started branching out into making slipcovers for other brands – like Crate & Barrel. They wanted to send us a slipcover to try out and we, of course, immediately jumped on the opportunity.
Comfort works slipcover review
So, let’s chat about the process of getting a Comfort Works slipcover, and then I’ll tell you my thoughts after living with it for a couple of months.
The first step in getting your new slipcover is to send over some photos of your sofa and choose your fabric. Then, Comfort Works will guide you through getting the measurements for your sofa. They have templates already made for all of the different sofas they offer and know the measurements it should be, but since they want to ensure a perfect fit they have you measure as well. It’s a really easy process and is detailed and clear. Once you’ve measured your sofa and they’ve triple-checked everything, they’ll get to making it and you should receive it in just a couple of weeks. You can see more about the process (and the Crate & Barrel sofa slipcovers they offer) right here.
Once the slipcover arrived, it was incredibly easy to put on our sofa. I did it by myself in less than an hour! You just have to add some velcro strips (that they send along!) to the bottom of the sofa for the new slipcover to cling to, and it just slips right over the existing fabric.
We went with the Kino fabric in Navy, and I’m so, so in love with it. It’s one of their most durable fabrics, and while it’s actually rated pretty low on their “comfort” scale, we find it really soft and comfortable to sit on. It seems a lot less likely to pill than our old fabric, and it’s been on our sofa for a couple of months now and still looks brand new.
The best part? It doesn’t seem to hold on to smells at all, and I haven’t had to spray it down with air freshener or wash it at all in the couple of months we’ve had it. I just vacuum it every couple of days to get rid of the dirt and crumbs, and we’re good to go. Of course, I’ll eventually have to wash the covers, but that’s the best part – most of their fabrics are machine washable! You may remember me saying that I washed my Crate & Barrel couch covers, but I technically wasn’t supposed to. They held up just fine but I always feel better about washing covers that actually say they’re machine-washable. And, since there’s a slipcover on the frame of the sofa and not just the cushions, I can also pull that off and toss it in the washer if I need to – that’s impossible with most sofas!
Beyond the durability, it really is just absolutely beautiful. I love the rich color, and it (of course) prompted a little refresh throughout the living room. We grabbed a new rug, hung some new art, and did some re-accessorizing. Oh, and we hung those adorable (under $50!) sconces above the couch, which don’t really give off a ton of light but make me smile every time I see them.
You win some, you lose some.
I still have a few changes I want to make in here, but this room is finally starting to feel much more us. It feel brighter and a little cheerier, and it feels CLEAN, which really, is all I ever want.
After living with the slipcover on our sofa for a couple of months now, I can officially say that I highly recommend you check out Comfort Works if you’ve got a sofa that could use a new look. They’re making slipcovers for several different retailers now (including West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Crate & Barrel!) and the process is really simple. It’s so nice to get a totally new look without shelling out the cash for a whole new sofa!
1. The directions were very clear and easy to follow.
2. She used techniques I’ve never seen before, and I’m always happy when a pattern teaches me something new.
3. It took very little fabric and even less time to make it.
You can see I left the flower off my bag, but that was just personal preference (though, I think a ribbon work flower from my Stitched Workshop would suit it beautifully). I did however, read through her instructions for making the rosettes and they were fantastic. She used a method I’ve not seen before, so I’ll definitely try it soon.
I love the fact that this pattern only uses 2 fat quarters of fabric. Dare I say? You could probably make two small bags with the fabric required for one. Not to mention the pattern itself is only $5.50. The finished bag is great for holding makeup, jewelry, and of course, Lollipops. After seeing how simple it was to make I may just whip up a few more as Christmas gifts.
Today I’ve got another “I could make that” project to share. Read on to learn how to make your own Mini Boden look alike.
You will need:
paper or freezer paper
a new or repurposed blank T-shirt
as few or as many colors of felt as you’d like
scrap of fusible interfacing
basic sewing essentials
Draw or trace a pear shape onto freezer paper (or regular paper) to create a pattern piece. Cut as many pears are you like out of felt using your pattern piece. **If you use freezer paper you can iron it directly onto the felt. It will stick and make cutting easier.
Place the pears wear you’d like them on the shirt, then cut a piece of interfacing big enough to cover them. Flip shirt inside out and iron interfacing to wrong side of where you’ll be placing your pears.
Pin the pears where you’d like them and use a fabric pencil to draw a stem and leaf on each fruit.
Use an embroidery needle and embroidery floss (only 3 threads of the strand) to sew a running stitch up the center of each pear and continue along embroidering the stem and the leaf.
I only now realized I forgot to embroider seeds onto them. Perhaps I’ll go back and do that, or maybe not 😉