Feathering My Nest: a DIY Disaster

In the nearly two years we’ve been writing this blog I’ve made my share of mistakes (or, in the parlance of politicians, mistakes were made). Remember when I painted our whole living room the babiest of blues? That was bad. Do you know what’s worse?  The time (last weekend) when I tried to DIY down-wrapped couch cushions and ended up choking on a trillion feathers and my own abject failure.

It’s as if I’ve become so accustomed to the ‘oh shit’ feeling that occurs at some stage of every DIY project that I’m completely desensitized to the real fear of something going horribly awry.  For instance, seems like I should have seen the hell I was about to unleash upon my home right about here:

feather mayhem

While I might have had a premonition (and a fit of sneezing from the downy fluff that was already air born), I didn’t let it stop me.  Heck no.  I didn’t stop until my house looked like a site of carnage and I could no longer see a path forward (literally or figuratively).


This is what it sounds like when doves cry.  RIP Prince.

It was at that point I wiped the tears of frustration from my eyes, tried to look on the bright side (at least I wasn’t covered in tar), and gave Mera a DIY 9-1-1 call.

With Mera’s help a plan was hatched (*cough*), and with Cameron’s help our house no longer looks like a torpedoed aviary (though Fat Bunny just sauntered into the room looking like he’d been wrestling a chicken, so it might take a while before all remnants of this disaster are erased).  I fully expect to show you a finished couch in my next post, but because I don’t want to end on a down note in this post (omigod, I am killing it), I thought I’d share a couple projects we recently completed around here that didn’t make me cry.

When we first moved in, the well was housed in a dilapidated eyesore of a tin shed that was a popular clubhouse for neighborhood cats (and they liberally marked it as such). Here it is the autumn we moved in:

tin shed 2

And here is today’s much more unified palette:

back yard

Before (with a Tiny Tiger photo bomb):

tin shed 1

And now.  We hooked a sink up to the well as a veggie washing/canning station, and I used Ardex Feather Finish (the same stuff I used on our laundry room backsplash and the pedestal table) to coat the counters. At some point I might tile the recessed area behind the sink.

sink in pump house

Another thing that’s not making me cry is the pink room. This was the guest room until we finished the Chamber of Secrets and then it became a sort of catch-all/junk room. When we recently tackled the upstairs, we did a major purge of stuff and put in new wood floors.  For now it’s the place I go to pretend I’m Marie Kondo and marvel at the four objects that are sparking joy.

pink roompink room 2

I’m looking forward to wrapping up the couch project, and I’m excited to share it with you next time (barring further disaster).  Thanks for reading along!

Three Casual Work Outfits for Katie, Plus a Big Announcement

From Katie:

If I weren’t so happy about our RHW pairing I’d definitely be strong-arming Mera into writing a blog called “What Katie Should Wear.”  I’ve worked in classrooms, in labs, and out in the field, but my current job is the first time that I’ve ever worked in a real office.  While it’s definitely not a suit-type place – jeans are acceptable (it is Eugene after all) – I do have to be more put together than the Carhartts and X-tra Tuff boots that passed muster in my previous jobs.  Mera has mastered a stylish, work-appropriate look, so I asked her to pull together some casual office outfit ideas for me.

Speaking of work, it’s been a whirlwind lately.  Also some huge changes are afoot here at RHW South (of a very different sort from what you’re about to read from Mera), that I’ll be revealing soon. Sadly the combination of work and the other, secret thing, has meant less time for project-based posts.  But if all goes as planned, that will change soon!  In the meantime, Mera writing this post is pretty much a dream come true for me – enjoy!

From Mera:

I’ve been a student of Katie’s style for nigh on twenty years, so I feel like I know what she likes and what she’ll actually wear. Plus it was fun for me to peruse some of my favorite online shopping spots, which I’ve stayed away from for the past few months. Why, you ask? Because I am gestating. It’s true! Our baby boy’s eta is the beginning of September, and we are, of course, totally excited. That said it hasn’t been the easiest pregnancy, which is at least a partial explanation for why RHW has been a little content-light lately.
But back to the shopping.  When I haven’t shopped for a while I feel like the falcon cannot hear the falconer, and maternity just doesn’t count, so it was a pleasure for me to put together a few super casual outfits for Katie.

This first get-up is basically my own work uniform, but with a more blousy shirt and elastic-waist pants.  I own the jacket in the army green color, and it’s been a game changer.  I am seriously considering getting the burgundy too.  I also have leopard print low wedges that I’ve worn so much I need to get them re-soled–for me they’re a neutral.  Now if I know Katie, she’d be 97% more likely to wear leopard print Vans, but since this is an office, even if a casual one, I went with the d’0rsay wedges instead.

Casual Eugene Office 2

1.  Blouse  2.  Jacket  3.  Earrings–sold out, but I actually like these better  4.  Shoes  5.  Pants

During pregnancy I refer to myself as PAM–Pregnant Alternate Mera.  I’m totally fuzzy-brained, and I can’t remember anything.  Well Pam is trying to convince me to buy this dress, even though it would look ridiculous on me in my present state, and even though there are probably only 10 days per year in Alaska when I could wear such a thing, pregnant or not (which actually has never stopped me in the past, so I can’t really blame Pam).  But I love it!  If anyone can rock a tunic dress it’s Katie, and the climate in Eugene is perfect for it.  She already has the clogs (as do I.  You should do yourself a favor and get a pair too–they are the best) and I gave her that bracelet for Christmas last year.  Cropped leggings make the proportions work just right.

Casual Eugene Office
1. Dress  2.  Earrings  3.  Bracelet  4.  Leggings  5.  Shoes

This final combo is really simple, and to me springy but totally casual-office appropriate.

Casual Eugene Office 3
 1. Blouse  2.  Pants  3.  Necklace  4.  Shoes

We’re curious: Do you have a work-wear formula or a favorite piece that gets you through long days at the office?

Put a Bird on it

Portlandia has made a (very funny, very apt) mockery of the ubiquitous inclusion of birds in every craft, but there are times when putting a bird on it is exactly the right thing to do.  We were reminded of this recently when we saw an article in Elle Decor featuring the Eames bird. Iconic and lovely in its proportions, it looks as good in this San Francisco apartment recently featured on Cup of Jo as it does in the original Eames house.

One could easily play a version of ‘Where’s Waldo’ by hunting for Ed Carpenter’s pigeon light among photographs of stylish UK homes.  There’s something about their bright colors and stout shape that lends cheeky cheer to even the most stately of rooms.

Katie’s been coveting one for years; they must have crept into her subconscious via the glossy pages of British decor mag Living Etc. Unfortunately (well, for Katie, you may feel differently) we can’t find them for sale anywhere anymore.

We’re also smitten with bird adornments of the two-dimensional type. Gorgeous avian wallpaper abounds; we love the colors of these birds and their magical treetop perch.

We find this wallpaper beautiful but disquieting.  We’re especially concerned about the bloated turkey on the slender branch and the unaware dove just moments from meeting its grisly end in the clutching talons of a falcon.

Mahara wallpaper, image found here

Mahara wallpaper, image found here

This wallpaper reminds Mera of her childhood budgerigars Sandrina Avocado and Spazattacker, who are long overdue for mention on Red House West.  While in life they were surrounded by the chaos of a preteen who collected whimsical erasers and all things pig, it’s nicer to think of them on silver perches in the company of roses and butterflies.

via Lonny

via Lonny

We’re not sure if these are some sort of alcid or if they’re penguins, but we know we love them.

These Audubon prints look endemic to this lush garden space.

These prints from Anthropologie have a sense of humor, and we can picture them looking sweet in a not too sweet nursery.

What do you think?  Did this post make you ornithophobic, or do you put a bird on it?