Monthly Archives: February 2016

President Trump?

I have been avoiding media coverage of Trump thus far.  I mean, i assumed there was no chance he would become the nominee, so what was the point?  Two of the three newspapers I read – WaPo and NYTimes – have been giving Trump a ridiculous amount of coverage, almost entirely negative.  They can pat themselves on the back for helping him to the nomination.

What snippets I have heard about Trump has not seemed all that bad to me.  For example, I heard he stated that he supported the mandate part of Obama’s health plan, in other words, the requirement that everyone buy health insurance.  While ObamaCare has many major drawbacks, it has significantly reduced the number of uninsured, and that is a very good thing. I think every US resident in this country should have access to healthcare.  To me, it’s a moral question.

I also heard he has spoken in favor of tariffs and against NAFTA.  I grew up hearing my Dad rail against international trade agreements.  Who could blame him?  We lived in upstate NY when I was little.  GE is to upstate NY what GM was to Flint, and GE has turned off the lights, its business moved overseas.  Dad saw the writing on the wall, and we moved to Pennsylvania next.  The same thing happened again, and we moved to Roanoke.  The factory Dad supported in Roanoke, which was one of the biggest employers in the city, has since closed up shop as well, its business moved overseas.

Are tariffs and protectionism good for everyone?  No.  There are winners and losers.  Wealthy business owners are winners because it enables them to make more money with their businesses.  The educated upper class (ie us) are winners because the goods we want to buy from furniture to shoes to cars are much cheaper.  The former working class – factory workers and artisans – are losers because their jobs move overseas.  Unions are losers because how can they compete with China and Bangladesh?   Foreign workers in developing countries are winners because their economies are exploding and providing opportunities for a new middle class – say goodbye to the US middle class and see a new one start in China instead.

People keep gnashing their teeth about an increasing gap between rich and poor.  But there is no increasing gap between rich and poor – not internationally that is.  Thanks to these international agreements, the gap between rich and poor is closing around the world (though it’s still quite large).  Of course, in the US, it’s widening.  To me it’s obvious what’s happening.  As far as business goes, borders are falling, and we are becoming one big happy world.  That means the formerly wealthy countries develop and underclass, and the formerly poor countries develop more wealth.  For the poorer nations, this is a very good thing.  For the former American middle class, not so much.

Democrats like Obama tend to propose that the government look out for the less affluent – free health care, earned income credit, food stamps, etc.  But does the person who used to earn a good living working for GM really want to become a waiter or a shoe salesman or some other service job that requires no skill and can’t be shipped overseas and live off government benefits?  I doubt it.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s better than starving, but I think most people would prefer a reliable, well-paying job at which they are well-treated than enhanced benefits from the government.  But I see us riding a one-way train to a place where, if you can’t earn a college degree, you are going to struggle.  And not everyone has the IQ to earn a college degree.

Of course, the third and last thing I’ve heard about Trump is that he thinks Mexico is going to pay for a wall.  I’m not sure if he really believes this, but it’s clearly nuts.  Also, our former nanny, about whom we care deeply, has current legal status thanks to Obama, and I am highly opposed to any politician who would jeopardize that.

I have been generally opposed to Trump since I first heard his name thrown out because I used to watch the apprentice.  Great show!  But if you have seen it, you know he is an egomaniac, even more than your average politician.  The idea of him negotiating with Iran or Russia is frankly very scary.  (About as scary as the idea of Bernie doing the same.)

what I like

I’ve been reading lots of decorating books lately, and my latest suggests I make a list of things I love and then look for themes.

  1. islands
  2. linen
  3. blue
  4. wool
  5. tweed
  6. ireland
  7. a clear day, not too hot
  8. handmade
  9. neutrals
  10. a good book
  11. comfort
  12. birdsong
  13. carnations
  14. tartan
  15. babies and chubby cheeks
  16. whitewashed wood
  17. curves in furniture
  18. green
  19. citron
  20. numbers
  21. maps
  22. detailed carpentry / woodsmanship
  23. birch
  24. mid-century modern

Next, I’m supposed to pick out the themes.  There’s definitely a homespun concept in there – wool, tweed, handmade.  My color favorites are those that make me think of sea and sky, except citron.  I love the idea of Ireland.

Next, I’m supposed to pick out pictures.

Ikea rocking chair - I have wanted one of those ones for SO LONG, they are so so comfortable:

my scandinavian home: A Zen Swedish space:

Linen Bixby Chair -

Apparently I love chairs!


The Design Chaser: TDC Archive Series | Best Living Rooms:

Handcarved Menagerie Console -

I’m actually a big fan of wall paper, but I don’t think I’m brave enough to do it in my house.  We do have wallpaper in one room.  I’m not thrilled with it, so perhaps we could replace that with more wallpaper.  It’s interesting that it’s fallen so out of favor.  I wonder why.  Perhaps there is more variety in paint available now.

Wouldn’t you love to have this on your wall?

Bird Sanctuary Wallpaper -

I also have a soft spot for ornate things, like this mirror.

Rococo Mirror -

Lose the ampersand, and this is great.

Spring Home Tour - vintage cabinet decorating:

I can never resist teal and turquoise.  But I think this is better in theory than practice.

tea wall in moroccan hotel / sfgirlbybay:

I love this look.  In practice, though, I like my floors covered with nice, soft carpets.

Linen Julienne Chair -



jars of soap for bathroom... make soap in right color(s). :):




A scrappy color wheel quilt

I just finished a color wheel quilt for my friend’s baby.  I finished it Monday night, delivered it Tuesday morning, and her baby was born Tuesday night (last night) in a surprise home birth.  Wow!

The pattern is by Red Pepper Quilts and can be found here.


I used a lot of Friedlander fabric from the Doe and Carkai lines.  I splurged on a Carkai bundle recently, and it got a lot of use in this quilt.  I am a huge fan of Friedlander’s neutrals, and the whites and beiges in this quilt are in large part hers.

I also used a lot of Tiger Lily by Heather Ross.  I absolutely adore that fabric line for a baby or toddler.  There are a few fabric’s from Elizabeth Olwen’s Park Life line.  I love the greens in that fabric.  There are a fair few Lotta Jansdottir prints thrown in as well and a few of my leftover pieces of Wee Wonder.  Otherwise, it’s bits and pieces of this and that.


The batting is my old favorite, 100% wool from Quilter’s Dream.  I absolutely love the light, thick, fluffy warmth of this batting.  I envision the quilt getting use to keep the baby off the floor, and hopefully she’ll enjoy the soft wooly filling.


The entire quilt was done in Aurifil Mako 50 weight White (2024).  In retrospect, I wish I’d used a slightly heavier thread for the quilting to make it hold up better.  Oh well.  Next time.


I straight-line quilted the whole thing in a 4-inch grid.  I wanted it to stay nice and soft and fluffy.  The 8-inch squares were stitch in the ditch.  Technically I could have stopped there, but I thought I’d better add just a little more to hold it all together.  It was quick and easy.


As usual, I did a double fold binding and hand-sewed it to the back.  Also as usual, I found the little bit of hand-sewing relaxing and enjoyable.  I also did my usual hand-appliqued label on the back as well.

The binding fabric is from the Heather Ross Tiger Lily collection.

All in all, I’m very happy with this quilt.


Do you have a sectional?  Do you like it?  Having finished with the playroom, I want to make some changes to the living room as well.  Currently, we have an 86″ couch (on the small side as couches go) and an antique rocking chair.  The latter is not the most comfortable seating in the world.  We have four use cases:

1.) H and I hanging out at night.  We both would like to be able to put our feet up.  We can’t do this with our smallish couch.

2.) The four of us hanging out.  This is really not an issue.

3.) Our parents visiting.  That means seating for four adults and one to two kids.

4.) Entertaining.  We rarely entertain more than one couple at a time, but we have some friends with older children, so that’s four adults and say three kids.

Our room is 15 x 15.5 feet with a fireplace on one end and a large, low window at 90 degrees to the fireplace.  The real estate photos – again, remember they take these to make everything look bigger than it is.

Note the sectional.  Every since I plopped down on that sectional at 8 months pregnant, I’ve wanted one just like it.  I’ve been using Planner 5D to model up options.

As far as sectionals go, there’s a sectional that is really just a couch with a chaise:

Axis II 2-Piece Sectional Sofa

However, that doesn’t have any more seating than a standard couch.  With regard to guests, some people might feel uncomfortable just coming in and putting their feet up straightaway.

Modeled up in Planner 5D with a chaise.  The white things on the left are the fireplace flanked by two bookcases.  The brown square thing is an ottoman meant to be used as a coffee table.  The white rectangular thing on the far wall is meant to be a daybed for extra seating in front of the window, and the brown roundy thing is a chair.  We want to have one stiff chair that is good for older people to sit in.



Then there is the small L-shaped option.  With a wedge, this starts to look a bit better:Detailed View

I think that you can argue that four people could sit on this comfortably.  After all, our current couch is only 86 inches.  This thing is huge by comparison.  The room starts to look more crowded, but not too bad.  (Ignore the difference between the sectional appearance and the photo.  The dimensions are correct.)


Alternatively, some places sell options with a “bumper” which look like this.  The bumper is the chaise thing on the right.

PB Comfort Roll Arm Upholstered 3-Piece Bumper Sectional with Corner

This thing is bigger – 110″ by 102″ – but the low chaise doesn’t block the view into our living room the way a couch with a back does.  It looks like this:BumperLivingRoom

However, I think it really sticks out too far and makes it hard to enter and exit the room.  The chair would need to go on the other side, perhaps.

I’d appreciate any input from people who have sectionals.  I’ve never lived in a house with one.  H and I would really just like to be able to sprawl out together on the same piece of furniture in the evenings.

I’ve found an ottoman and chair on Anthropologie that I love, but they cost a fortune.  I’m sure I can find some cheaper alternatives, but here they are nonetheless:

Oh, I should add, I found my sectional plus ottoman inspiration in a book, but here’s something online that’s similar:

Pacific Hillside



truth, lies, and o-rings

I’m reading Truth, Lies and O-rings by Allan McDonald regarding the Challenger disaster.  The author was a senior manager at the time of the Shuttle disaster in Morton Thiokol, the company responsible for making the solid rocket motors, which were the point of the failure.

I’m only 16% of the way through, but it is seriously like watching a car crash.  It’s mind-boggling, but I suppose it shouldn’t be based on my worldview that most people, including most engineers, are incompetent and that engineering is very hard because unlike many professions, there is a right answer, and the wrong answer results in failures.

In any case, I am blown away by reading about how MT (Morton Thiokol) is busy analyzing their O-ring problems and is aware that there is a temperature component based on the observations on the retrieved hardware from previous flights.  However, they don’t bother to try and really figure this out until the night before a proposed Shuttle launch date in cold weather, at which point their engineering team hastily comes up with a hand-written proposal recommending a launch commit criteria of 53 F temperature at the O-ring.

Now, when your vendor is telling you it’s not safe to launch below 53 F and you’re flying humans, it seems obvious in retrospect that the proper course of action is to stand down and do a full analysis.  I mean, you don’t develop launch commit criteria using the back of an envelope.  The real question should have been, among other things, how can you be really sure that 53 F is really safe?  (The Shuttle had previously survived a mission with the O-ring at that condition, but that’s no guarantee it would survive a thousand or a hundred thousand missions at that condition given other uncertainties.)

If no astronauts were in the picture, it would have been absolutely appropriate for NASA to push back, consider proceeding at risk, pressure the vendor to reconsider, whatever.  But with astronauts’ lives on the line?  If your vendor pulls a new launch commit criteria out of their back pocket on a system that’s supposedly been qualified to 13 degrees lower?  (Keep in mind that in aerospace to qualify something to a given temperature you test in to temperatures 30 degrees lower or higher.  It’s unclear to me when the author says the booster was qualified to 40F whether he’s saying it was tested at 10F, or that it was tested at 40F.  I presume the former.)  I would conclude that my vendor was incompetent and that a full review of their system was needed.

Well, now I get to read what NASA really did.  It’s interesting reading because my knowledge about Challenger is really quite limited.


Our new house has an entry-way.  This is the first time I’ve lived in a house with a real entryway.  Our last house opened straight into what I think was supposed to be a sitting room, but what we actually used as our guest bedroom (with the help of portable dividers.)  You can see a picture of it here:

This is the real estate picture, which naturally makes it look like a ballroom.  It’s actually not all that big.  Presently, we have a rather utilitarian green rug in front of the door and nothing else.  You can kind of see from the picture that there’s a place next to the stairs for a small table.  It’s about 24 x 48 in terms of floor space.  I think with our dogs plus kids lifestyle putting anything in the middle of the floor is a no-go.  I’d like to put a table and something to sit on.  I’m either thinking a very small table – say 24 x 24 plus a chair, or a longer table with a stool / ottoman pushed underneath it.  Our primary means of entry is through the garage, so this would mainly be used by guests.

Perhaps something like this:

Tanner Console Table - Bronze finish

Perhaps something like this ottoman:

With a really simple table.  There are lots of inexpensive options on Amazon, like this one:

On top of the table would go say a plant and a clock.  I’d like to have a lamp, but I don’t have easy access to power.

Right now, when you walk into our house, you really don’t see much except our mostly empty front room which we have filled with our double stroller and a couple other messy-looking items.  I think perhaps dressing up the entry might help with the currently unkempt feel.

This is my inspiration, from Pinterest, for the ottoman under console table look.  I don’t have room for the pictures or the tree, but I still think it could look nice.

A warm and inviting entryway designed by Kelly McGuill and recreated for less than $2000 for Copy Cat Chic by @audreycdyer:

I would put a basket there as well for people’s shoes as we generally take our shoes off in the house.

Alternatively, I can see using a nice table with just a chair alongside it, like this table, with a simple wood chair:

Weldon Side Table:

The table is pottery barn, but I’m sure there are a million options on Wayfair and Amazon.