HIPPworks!

The HIPPworks shop is happening, people!

The HIPPworks shop is happening, people!

My day job, in general, is pretty terrific. It is interesting, purposeful, challenging, and I am fortunate to have good people by my side. But one thing I don’t get to do in my day job is use my hands for creativity. For me, there is a fundamental difference between intellectual creativity and physical creativity. I get intellectual creativity in abundance at my day job – solving problems, writing papers, building relationships, analyzing data. I get to be intellectually creative 40+ hours a week, and the time and priority of that is well-defined. But physical creativity has always had to be shoehorned into the already overflowing category of Non-Work Time. There is never enough Non-Work Time and the other things that fill it end up feeling higher priority than creativity. So after many months of thinking, dreaming, and overcoming fears, I am finally reserving a space in my life for being creative.

You guys, I am super delighted to announce my new little shop: HIPPworks!

There will be small collections of handmade quilts for sale. I’m intrigued by the idea of developing a concept for a collection, then getting to play with different colors and fabrics within that concept to make each quilt unique. Talk about scratching a creative itch!

I’ve already gotten started with my first collection of quilts: ADOPT.

HIPPworks ADOPT collection Quilt 01 handmade modern

Quilt no. 01 from the ADOPT collection

The ADOPT collection is inspired by the adoption of our daughter, Micah. She has added a bright center to our lives, and our arms can’t help but wrap around her and hold her tight.

This collection is a riff on the traditional log cabin quilt block, with arms of iron gray and snowy white wrapped tightly around a bright center of color. I chose to do the backing with a single piece of of a durable linen-cotton blend to add a bit of texture and also unify the colors from the front. The black and white gingham binding is just for fun! It livens up the solids and makes a defined border. Each quilt will have a different colors for the center and backing, but the design, the white/gray arms, and the gingham binding are the common links in this collection.

Quilt 01 is done and displayed in the HIPPworks shop…but it is already gone! To kick off this new venture, I have donated it to a fundraiser auction for the scholarship program at a local child care center. Quilt 02 is done and will be listed on the shop as soon as I can get good photos, and Quilt 03 is almost finished. I’ll add a blog post when each one is ready to go! I have plans and supplies for 10 total quilts in the ADOPT collection so stay tuned for more fun.

It is exciting to have a creative outlet. It is exciting to have a goal and work toward making it happen. And it is exciting to share it with you. Thanks, friends!

A condensed update

red quilt handmade mrshipp HIPPworks

A quilt for my new daughter

It seems like the start of every blog post I’ve written could have started with “So much has happened since the the last time I posted!” That’s always true but it is a ridiculous way to start a post. If a lot hadn’t happened, there wouldn’t be much reason to document it on the blog, and there would be more time available to blog about it.

In this case, so much has happened since the last time I posted that I can’t even wrap my head around how to begin sharing it with you. There has been an abundance of joy, a dose of surprising disappointment, and some healthy productivity. More details on all of these as I figure out the best way to tell the story. It will likely be over multiple posts and interspersed with the-right-now. But in the meantime, I leave you with this:

I am a mother now.

I am quilting more than ever.

What I do for a living will change.

Blogging once more

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I have had various versions of a blog since 2006, with several stretches of active posting followed by doldrums of silence. The earliest version was about crafting – knitting, mostly – and was used as a way to keep track of my projects and share them with the then hyper-active knitting blogosphere. Other versions expanded slightly to other forms of crafting, and the latest version expanded further to home improvements, decorating, and life in St. Louis.

All those various blogs and posts, scattered across various platforms, hosting services, templates, and writing styles, are now all gathered into one place. Here. My new place. Feel free to troll through the archives for spurts and sputters of my thoughts from the past 8 years.

And I’ve even sprung for my very own domain name: mrshipp.com. Fancy!

The most recent doldrums of silence lasted a year and a half. My last post was in July 2012 (!). Time to end the doldrums. Let’s hope for a good long stretch of active posting. I’d love if you join me for the ride!

Kitchen thoughts and ideas

I mentioned in my last post that I had several ideas on what to do next in the kitchen. Some of those ideas are already in the process of implementation, but I haven’t taken photos of their progress yet. I’ll be working on the kitchen this weekend and will hopefully have some good photos to share next week. For now, I’d like to share some of my ideas and where they came from.

1. Paint the walls white.

2. Incorporate a dark painted element.

Source: via Pamela on Pinterest

3. Incorporate stained wood.

4.Transform existing cabinets.

5. Add more open shelving and increase closed storage capacity.

6. Incorporate fabric.

7. Replace awful lighting.

It’s going to be another scorching hot weekend here in St. Louis. Perfect for staying indoors and making progress on kitchen projects. I may even be able to rope Aaron in to helping me.

What do you have planned for this weekend? Got any good projects planned, or are you gathering ideas for future projects?

Replacing the dishwasher

I shared the excitement of getting a new dishwasher in my last post. The screaming is over, but I still love it. Now it’s time to share the details on how we removed the old one, and installed the new one.
Installation through Lowe’s (where we bought the new dishwasher) would have cost $150. I remembered seeing that John at Young House Love was able to do the removal and installation himself and felt encouraged that we could do it too. It took a bit of convincing to get Aaron onboard with the DIY plan, but I won him over with assurances that it would be just like changing out a chandelier or a bathroom faucet. I sort of glossed over the fact that it would actually be like changing out a chandelier AND a bathroom faucet at the same time. Minor detail!
For further reassurance, I also looked at This Old house and found this helpful article on replacing a dishwasher. Combined with Young House Love’s dishwasher change-out post, and we were set to begin.
As a reminder from last time, here is what our old dishwasher looked like, in situ.
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And here is what it looked like, ex situ.
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To get to this point, we had to undo a few connections. Water was shut off by closing a valve under the sink. We have three valves down there: two with pipes going straight up, and one with a pipe going toward the dishwasher, so it was pretty easy to figure out which one to twist closed. (The two with pipes going straight up feed hot and cold water to the kitchen sink.) We then shut off electricity to the dishwasher via the circuit breaker. We have found that the circuit labels in our electrical box are not always reliable, so we figured out the correct circuit breaker by turning on the empty (and now waterless) dishwasher and flipping breakers until the dishwasher turned off. It turns out that the correct circuit breaker was labeled after all, although strangely only with the word “Dish”.
After turning off the water and electricity, we removed a panel at the bottom front of the dishwasher by unscrewing one screw. There should have been two screws to undo, but we only found one. That explains why the front panel kept falling off when I swept the kitchen floor. Oops.
Behind the panel was the water line – it’s the copper pipe in the photo below. This Old House indicated the water line is usually on the left side of the dishwasher, and that’s exactly where we found it.
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The water line was easily disconnected by undoing the nut at its end with an crescent wrench. We had a rag underneath to catch water drips.
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Next step was to disconnect the electrical wiring. There was a black box on the right side of the dishwasher, also behind the panel that was removed. We unscrewed one screw on the black box to reveal the wiring.
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Three wire nuts were undone to free to wires.
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I don’t have a photo, but we also disconnected a waste water line that goes from the dishwasher to the garbage disposal under the sink. We disconnected it at the garbage disposal by undoing a compression sleeve that was held by two screws.
Once the water line, electrical wires, and waste line were disconnected, we undid the screws that held the dishwasher in place. These were at the top and connected the dishwasher to the counter.
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We shimmied the dishwasher out of its place between the cabinets and PRESTO…dishwasher ex situ.
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We used Young House Love’s suggestion of sliding the old dishwasher out on a piece of cardboard so as to protect the kitchen floors.
And then we were left with an empty space in our cabinets. An empty space that looked like a crime scene.
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Seriously, how gross is this? Thank goodness it cleaned up easily with a some all-purpose cleaner and a rag. The plywood subfloor had some old water damage, but I probed every inch of it with a screwdriver and didn’t find any soft spots, which would have indicated rotten (aka unstable) wood. With the subfloor still solid, we didn’t have to worry about replacing it, which would have been a huge pain in the patootie. Relief!
From here, installing the new dishwasher was just a matter of doing all of the above steps in reverse order. There was one problem though: the existing cooper water line. We had two issues with it:
Issue #1: The dishwasher’s water inlet is typically on the left front of the dishwasher, as noted above. The water line comes from the back left behind the dishwasher. The old dishwasher had a wide open space between it and the floor – enough to allow the copper pipe to be shaped into a gentle half circle and make the connection. The new dishwasher, though, has a tunnel for the water line to run from front to back, meaning the distance available to make to turn toward the dishwasher’s water inlet was much smaller – from the floor to the height of the water inlet, or about three inches. That angle was too tight for the rather rigid copper pipe; we would have had to bend it into 90 degree angle, which would pinch off water flow.
So the copper water pipe had to go. We replaced it with a flexible stainless steel hose. It made the turn from the tunnel to the inlet with no problems.
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Here’s another view of the new water connection, from the side:
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Issue #2: Under the kitchen sink, the dishwasher’s copper water line connects to a main water pipe that is also copper but larger in diameter. The old connection was made with some sort of reducer to link the differently-sized pipes. We took the new hose to a corner hardware store and learned that there is no easy way to connect the hose to a larger diameter copper pipe. The solution offered by the hardware store, though, ended up being rather elegant: a few inches the old copper water line was cut off, and two connectors were purchased – one to connect the stainless steel hose to the short piece of the old copper water line, and another to connect the short piece of the old copper water line to the larger copper main pipe.
The end result is unobtrusive and totally works:
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Lenore contributed to the project, too. Her role consisted of providing comic relief and soliciting belly rubs.
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The most difficult step actually came after all the connections were re-made and the new dishwasher was slid into place…making the darn thing plumb and level. Leveling was done by twisting the front feet to raise or lower each side. Making it plumb involved turning a screw at the front, which raised or lowered a foot at the back of the dishwasher. The screw at the front requires an allen wrench, but one wasn’t provided with the dishwasher. And our vast collection of allen wrenches didn’t include the right size. Grrrrrrr…
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But thanks to some needle nosed pliers, we got it done. And the new dishwasher, well, it’s a thing of beauty.
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It’s been a few weeks, and I am still super pleased with the new dishwasher. It is impressively quiet…like, it’s hard to tell that it’s already on and running when I’m standing right next to it. The only noises it makes are a low humming sound when first turned on and a charming chime when a load is done. That’s it.
Next steps for the kitchen? We’ll that’s still to be determined, but I have some ideas, yes, I have ideas.

The path to happiness is paved with clean dishes

We bit the bullet and made our first major appliance purchase for this house…a new dishwasher! I am so excited about it I could scream. Actually, I did scream just a little bit after it was installed. This slightly alarmed our cats, but they got over it.

Before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a look at the old dishwasher.

It’s white, with a charmingly yellowed plastic top. Let’s call that “patina”.

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The inside is also plastic, faded, and yellowed with age.

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And the best part is that sections of the dish racks had rusted completely through, leaving a gap for small plates to fall out.

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The old dishwasher has been like this ever since we bought the house. We knew it was on its last legs when we moved in. Since the house came with a home warranty that covered repairs on all of the appliances, we figured we might as well keep the dishwasher for another year – using the home warranty for non-fatal repairs – after which it would surely die a dignified and spectacular death. I imagined a scene with rattling coughs and spurts of smoke as the old dishwasher heroically churned away until – suddenly and with a swelling of violins in the background – it gave a final salute, and then stopped…forever.

Fast forward nearly two years and the darn thing was still going. But it wasn’t going strong. It would mysteriously and inconsistently stop between the wash and dry cycles. Sometimes dishes came out still dirty. It became evident that the dishwasher would not die with dignity, spectacle, or heroism. Instead, it would exit like a lazy teenager, increasingly shirking its duties until I threw my hands up in exasperation and no longer nagged it to wash the dishes.

I decided not to give the dishwasher the satisfaction of winning. Instead of letting it go play video games upstairs, I decided to kick its butt out onto the street and let it fend for itself. (Actually, the guys who delivered the new dishwasher carried the old one gently outside and then put it into a big truck. Don’t worry, you will not find a sobbing adolescent dishwasher outside of our house.)

And it in its place stepped this shining beauty. It even makes the green laminate countertops looks pretty.

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I’ll be writing up a separate post with the details on how the old one was removed and the new one was installed. It was drama, let me tell you.

In the meantime, know that the Hipp house is now full of clean dishes, and all is right with the world.