Pom Pom Garland

by Rachel Blackburn in

Emmy's room has an awkward empty space above her closet.  It's about 2 feet high (not including the beam) and about 5 feet long.  I wanted to put something there, but I wasn't sure what to fill the space with.

It popped into my brain that something hanging from the ceiling would be cute in that spot.  Something light enough for the closet ceiling, open and airy enough that it wouldn't feel cluttered.  

A pom pom garland sounded perfect!

I looked around Etsy and came away thinking "I can make that for way cheaper, can't i?"

Yes, yes I can.  And if I can do it, so can you!

- Here's how you do it - 

You will need:

Yarn, in several different colors for the pom poms

Yarn or string, to string the pom poms on

A craft needle

A pair of scissors

Your hands


I wanted big pom poms, since they will be up high and need to have a big impact.  The ones i made were about 4 inches across.  You could make them smaller by wrapping them fewer times around a smaller object.


- Here's what I did - 

1. Roll your yarn into a ball.  It'll be easier than sorting out knots in the skein of yarn while your hand turns blue.  Not that I speak from experience...

2. Take the yarn and wrap it around your hand (around your 4 fingers) 125 times.  Don't make it too tight or you will have blue fingers (see step #1).

3. Slide the yarn loop carefully off your hand.

4. Wrap a short piece of yarn around the middle of the loop - all the yarn.  Double knot it as tight as you can.

5. Cut the loops.

6. Fluff the yarn so the ball looks round-ish.

7. Trim off the excess yarn until you get the size and appearance you want.

8. String some yarn or string on your needle, the length that you want the garland to be.  Thread the pom poms onto the yarn, as close together as you want them to be.  

9. Hang it up and enjoy it!  This makes a great decoration for kids' rooms, and it can be used as a party decoration or a photo prop.  

Front Yard Before/After

by Rachel Blackburn in ,

I have discovered a love of gardening.  Or rather, I like ripping stuff out, shopping for new plants, putting them in and forgetting about whatever maintenance they require.

I suppose if we weren't also renovating this whole house I'd have time for fussy plants, but I don't.  So I go to the nursery, find a knowledgeable sales person, tell them what I'm looking for and that it has to be a plant that can handle neglect.

They generally have just the thing.

In this instance, I heard a lot about the evergreen plants our nursery had on hand, but it wasn't so much the lush feel that we were going for.  I wanted something that was lush and vibrant in the spring.  I also wanted evergreen, but that didn't really happen.  Oh well.  It's what, 2-3 months that it'll all look like sticks?  I can hack that.  So I did my own thing.

Our yard has been neglected for many years.  Things are overgrown or have disease, so we are pretty much just keeping the key players (trees) and going to town on the rest of it.  

In the front yard I ripped out an entire row of sword ferns (which are STILL trying to grow back.  Good grief plants!  Give it up!) along a short retaining wall, ripped out a lot of weeds, whacked back the boxwoods by the garage, put in some grass seed in the dirt patch between the house and the street and around the edge of our lawn (still working on that), pulled out 2 sickly-looking cedars, an andromeda that was probably as old as the house and had roots to reflect that, a sickly azalea, another bush that I couldn't identify but was pitiful, and 3 very robust rhodis that I did have a twinge of regret about removing, but they were just too big.  Michael had no such twinge.  Rhodis are not his favorite.  We kept the beautiful camellia and Michael shaped it and removed all of the dead undergrowth.  It looks amazing!

To replace the plants we removed, we tried to stick to things that would feel lush in the summer.  And hydrangeas.  I love those.  We planted 6 of the ones that bloom all summer!

Here is the comparison:

Before.  Overgrown bushes obscured the view of the (lovely avocado green) house.  You can see the ferns sticking up from behind the retaining wall.  There really is a house back there - I promise!

After.  You can see the (lovely avocado green) house!  The plants are small, but given a few years they will fill in and be beautiful.  It's hard to see, but there is a green laceleaf Japanese maple in there.

And again.  Before:

And after.  Hydrangeas under the pine!  I have to figure out what else will grow under there, since grass obviously doesn't.  Pine trees make the soil underneath them very dry.

I also lugged a birdbath that was sitting in the back yard buried under some ivy to the front.  It gave the bed that added pizazz I was going for, since everything in that bed has to be 18 inches or lower to accommodate the view from the living room and it was feeling kind of boring.

I've been working on the back yard too, while Michael does a lot of the interior work.  The back yard is a whole other beast.  I'm primarily focusing on ripping out invasive species back there for now.  Ivy, Oregon grape, bamboo, sword fern, wild mint (not edible, unfortunately), blackberries, violets and baby plum trees are the worst of it.  Once I have that more pulled together I'll post that too.  

In the meantime, we picked up an awesome Craigslist find that we are working on this week!

How to Swag a Pendant Light Without a Chain

by Rachel Blackburn in ,

We are currently in the market for a considerable number of light fixtures.  Every one in this house needs replaced, and it's dark so we need to add a few more. 

With beam ceilings, that means swag lights only.  There is no attic to move junction boxes around in.

Did you know there are a fairly limited number of reasonably-priced swag lights that can handle more than a 40 watt bulb available on the market, and most of them are not mid-century modern?  I don't want a dining room chandelier in every room thankyouverymuch.  

I loooooove the look of more clean-lined lighting fixtures.  I've been drooling over a few at West Elm and Crate and Barrel for a few months now.  Only problem is, I haven't been able to figure out how to get them to swag.  They have no chain, only a cord.  That won't work on a hook - it'll just slip and put too much tension on the line, besides looking ugly.

Recently we decided to take the plunge and figure out how to make it work, because we found a really awesome light for the hallway at West Elm for not too much money.  Great look, reasonable cost.  No chain.

Michael googled for a bit of inspiration and came upon this post.  Ironically enough, it's even the same light fixture!  He made a quick trip to Home Depot and had the loop assembled in about a minute.  

This won't work in every situation, but it is sure going to open up a variety of lighting options for us!  It keeps the line in place, gives it some extra support so we're not hanging an electrical wire directly on a hook that will pinch and cut into it, and it looks kinda cool.

- Swagging a Pendant Light Without a Chain - 

You'll need a 1/4" wire rope thimble and clamp, and a ceiling hook to hang the light on

1. Mark on your line where you want the loop to go.

2. Run the area where you want the loop over the thimble (the u-shaped device that makes the curve).  

3. Attach the clamp right below the thimble, and hand tighten it.  You don't want it so tight that it impinges on the electrical cord.  You just want it to hold.

4. Hang your light.

5. Voila!