Monthly Archives: January 2013

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Thursday’s Things

things I like

I might have a shoe problem. Although to be clear, at this point it’s strictly window shopping. Those dotty wedges are calling me though. The wall shelves would be perfect for the kitchen redesign. If only our walls were straight enough to hang them on. Silly old house. And that cake. Goodness. Oh interwebz. You do have a way of making me want all the things.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Building the Dining Table

laying out the boards

cutting metal support strips for reclaimed wood dining table

underside of reclaimed wood dining table

reclaimed wood texture

reclaimed wood dining table unfinished

We were a little busy this weekend. Still haven’t settled on a finish, but we did manage to get the table built. It’s held together with three metal straps. I think Finn had a lot of fun cutting those. Manly sparks flying everywhere, even if his workbench was over our laundry sink (related, we really need a garage).

I have three pots of stain in my kitchen and liming wax on its way. We’ll do some experimenting with finish on the underside of the table and make our decision this weekend. We also need to come up with a different base, as these silly Ikea legs don’t actually attach to the table. Not a great idea when you have a busy 6-year-old who likes to randomly push off things.  We’ll either build a cast iron pipe base or perhaps grab some hairpin legs from Etsy.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed I also painted a bed frame this weekend. It was unexpectedly stinky, but looks much better. More on that later.

Dining Table Progress

Remember the dining table inspiration I posted last fall? Of course you do, it’s all you’ve been thinking about really. I wonder what Kathryn is doing about that dining table? I present to you, progress.


Why yes, that is a pile of old wood. Over Christmas break we went out to a local salvage store (The Rebuilding Exchange, check it out if you’re local) and picked over their selection of reclaimed wood. We ended up with a 20 foot section of 2 x 12. We had a local woodworker create three boards from the best sections and plane them flat. So today, our table looks like this.


Next steps, attach the boards together with 1×4 underneath and then figure out how we want to finish the top. I know I want to use wax instead of poly, but liming wax, dark wax, clear wax … Any ideas? I’m leaning towards liming because I think the black table is too dark in the space now and we have plans to replace our counters with a white marble corian (more on that later). But I’ve never, ever chosen a light finish for anything. What do you think?

Here are our DIY inspiration images, for reference.

And the ready made inspiration.

benchwright-extending-reclaimed-wood-dining-table Pottery Barn

New Year, New Living Room

room from kitchen - Copy

It’s been what, 2 months since I rearranged the living room? You had to know this was coming.

So when last we saw things, it was just after the Great Couch Switcheroo (coming soon to a theatre near you) and the Strandmon chair addition. Moving the Karlstad upstairs continues to be one of the best ideas ever, but it wasn’t working up against the windows. So one day when Finn was out, I pulled a fast one. It had to be when he was gone, because this new arrangement involved moving the TV, which was bolted to the wall. There was no way he was going to go for that unless I could just surprise him with the amazingness already finished. Plus, I wasn’t sure it was going to work, I thought moving the sectional so that the chaise stuck out into the walking path might make everything more awkward. Turns out, this makes the room seem much much bigger.

Some before photos for you.
The pre-switcheroo shoot. Pretty, but not functional.
living room 011

Same view, post sofa switch. Weird, yes? This actually got changed fairly quickly, but I have no photographic evidence of that from the same vantage point. Probably because of the Christmas tree that would have been in the way.
LR long from front

And today. It’s tricky to get a shot of this narrow space, I might go stand on a table to get a better one for you next time the space is clean. Which should be sometime in 2016.

living room from entry

The front space, by our entry. Moving the coffee table in front of the fireplace has made the entire area much more functional. Legos, puzzles, glasses of wine – we use that space so much more now. And it makes a clear division for lego play, I move the table out a bit and ask the kids to play with their legos by the fireplace so we can still move around the space.
front room entry - Copy

I really love these pictures of Roan and Emmeth by Finn.
prints by fireplace - Copy

And the book reading, TV watching, family snuggling side. Basket of yarn at the ready for my little crafters. (Not for me.)
tv from standing

tv area from hall - Copy

room from kitchen - Copy

I thought I might need a new coffee table, but I like just having the little wooden side table float in front. It adds a nice texture and is easily moved for dance parties when Roan must bust a move. Like Jagger (why did I buy that song for him?).

I’m sure I’ll tweak things some more (and I still need to figure out the curtains), but this is one of the more functional arrangements we’ve had. Have you changed up anything for the new year?



No Knead Bread (A Pinterest Win)

no knead bread

No knead bread recipes are all over the place these days, touted as the everyman’s route to bakery deliciousness. Their promise of purity and simplicity combined with the ease of use we’ve all come to ask for in our endeavors seem to good to be true. I’ve made no knead breads from the Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook for a couple of years now and while they are easy, I’ve rarely been super impressed with my efforts. Enter the new no-knead recipe, one that quadruples the rise time and cooks in a dutch oven. Hey, I can leave stuff alone for a long time, especially if the recipe recommends I get some sleep as part of the directions. I’m down with sleep. So I tried it. All the pinners said, “best bread ever”. But you know pinners, they say that kind of stuff all the time. This time, however, they were not lying, exaggerating or just more talented than I am. I have made five loaves since this first one and each time they have lasted less than 24 hours in my house. I’m actually not making it as often because I’m pretty sure my kids would eat nothing else. Although I could probably put spinach paste on this bread and they’d eat it. AND ask for more.

One of the other great things about this recipe is that it has just four ingredients and they are all things I generally have around the house. Water? I don’t even have to walk to the creek with my fancy indoor plumbing . Salt? Kosher all the way. Bread flour? Sure. Yeast? Most of the time. It used to be that the yeast’s age was questionable, but I’ve gone through my stash with all the bread making and I now not only have yeast, it’s not even expired (I haven’t noticed a difference in the bread rise, in case you’re wondering). The recipe that follows is from Frugal Living NW, she adapted it from Jim Lahey. Check out her site for even more tips and directions.

To start, have your lovely assistant measure out 6 cups of bread flour. If you’re homeschooling, this totally counts as a math lesson (stop judging me).


°To your 6 cups of flour add 2 ²⁄3 cups of water, 1 teaspoon yeast (actually that’s doubling it, the recipe calls for ½ teaspoon but I just can’t do it) and 2 ½ teaspoons of salt. Mix it all up (I even got a fancy new Danish dough whisk). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it out of the way to rise for 12 to 18 hours. Yes. Hours. Go take a nap, read a book, find some way to occupy your time. I’m not saying you have to be productive, just don’t worry about the bread.

When you come back, it will look like this.
yeast bubbles

Slightly yellow, with lots of little dots that look like you spilled the pepper in your dough, but which, on closer inspection, turn out to be air bubbles. This recipe makes a very wet dough so you’re going to want to have lots of flour on hand for the next step. I have found, through experimentation, that whole wheat flour, as opposed to more bread flour, seems to work better.

Liberally flour a tea towel and your hands. Take the dough from the bowl and quickly shape it into a roughly round ball, tucking the ends under. Place the ball on your towel like so and put quite a bit more flour on top. It does not have to be anything close to perfect.

shaped loaf on towel

Transfer the tea towel and bread to a bowl, cover with another towel or fold the ends on top, depending on your towel size.

shaped loaf

Let the dough rise in the bowl for 2 hours. At the 90 minute mark, put your dutch oven in the oven and set the temperature to 425º F. When the oven and pot have been heating for thirty minutes (2 hours since you transferred the dough to the bowl), carefully remove the hot pot from the oven. Flip the bread from the bowl into the dutch oven. Frugal Living NW has better pictures of this step, I was working without an extra camera man. At least without one who could take clear pictures. It seems like the bread should stick to the towel but I’ve only had that happen once (the first time, when I used bread flour) and even then it wasn’t a big deal.

Put the lid on and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 10 – 15 till golden and crusty. This loaf needs to get quite golden, the one pictured here wasn’t done enough. It was still good,  just a little sticky.

finished loaf 1

Voila. Ze perfect bread. Put the bread on a rack to cool and DO NOT cut into it. You’ll hear it cracking as it cools, that’s good. Wait at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour, or your bread will be gummy. I know, this recipe requires a lot of patience. And it seems like you’d need to find so much time to make it, but really, the actual hands on time is about 10 minutes. If that. Make it the night before and shape and bake in the morning before work if your kids are early risers like mine. It is crazy good. Make it. Make it today!

Things I Need

bike I, like many people, love Anthropologie. A lot. A shirt from there can dress up the blandest outfit and their home items are often just the right mix of modern and quirky. So when I saw this amazing copper bicycle posted by Design Mom from Anthropologie I gasped. And then I gasped again when I saw the price tag. $6000. Now don’t get me wrong, that is one seriously gorgeous bike. But yowsers. That is another lifestyle (Finn’s first comment was that they had combined the area thieves two favorite items in one). It had been a while since I’d taken a look at Anthropologie’s notorious Hobbies and Leisure section, so I wandered over to see what else was new. As usual it did not disappoint with the eye candy. Here are five of my favorites for the next time I have a few thousand discretionary dollars. Altair Tent, Anthropologie, $10,000 The Altair Tent “Does not include wood flooring or flags.” Obviously, the wood floor would warp in all that water. Seriously though, I’d camp in this. Or Glamp rather. $10,000. Yes $10,000. Rickshaw by Gordan Hull Anthropoloie $10000
RickshawI live in a bike friendly community and I need this rickshaw. How else will I get my children to school and run errands? Also, read the review. I really want it to be a real review. $10,000. garden games basket anthropologie $6500
Garden Games BasketI need this. So do you. My children will be excellent at cricket and rounders. And Quiots. I don’t know how I’ve never played that before, I must become expert immediately. $6500.

bamboo keyboard anthropologie
Bamboo Keyboard and MouseThis one is both attractive and affordable. I still like it. $98. At that price though, everyone will have one.

paddleboard anthro $6500
Paddleboard. A gorgeous, limited edition paddleboard inlaid with suzani fabric. They only made 12, so you can be sure you’ll stand out as you fall off. $6,500. They must think these will be a big seller, as they are offered in a dozen different patterns.


Which one of these will you run out and grab before they sell out?  Limited editions people.


Make It: Fake a Roman Shade

After we got the new window last month, I wanted to get a proper window covering, rather than the cheap blinds we’d slapped up to cover the old window’s hideousness. I was a bit stuck for exactly what would work though. This window is in a tricky spot and comes with some crazy dimensions. The window is wide (58 inches) and short (45 inches) and at the top of our entry stairs. The wall it’s on is a different depth than the dining room wall, which starts just one inch away. And I have a shoe cabinet directly beneath it. The final trick –  it’s very close to the dining room window, so the window coverings I chose needed to relate to those, preferably even match. Because of the window’s awkward location though, standard drapes weren’t an option. And ordering a custom shade for a window that wide was more money than I wanted to invest. So I decided I’d try to make something. The dining room curtains are just from Ikea and I like how they blend into the walls. I’d seen several tutorials on faking roman blinds and decided I’d try my hand at that. All those tutorials used much narrower blinds than I needed, but the process should be the same, right?  Well, yes and no.

lay out blind

I started with a cut-to-width blind from home depot. They were the cheapest I could find in the width I needed, this one was $28. We laid it out in the basement. Note: if you’re going to do this, don’t lay it out on a rug. The fiber stuck to the glue in the few places it bled through, we ended up shaving our finished blind with a razor. Which worked fairly well. Really about as well as you think shaving a blind with a razor would work.

cut away extra slats

Decide how long you want your folds. I thought 6″ folds would be good, as my window is not that long. I should have gone bigger, perhaps 9 or 10 inches.  6 inches is fine, just a little more bunchy when up than I wanted. Learning curve.  Mark the slats you want to keep with a sharpie and then cut away the ones you won’t need, being careful not to cut the center cords.

fix accidents with duct tape

And when you accidentally cut one of the slats you want to keep, duct tape works well to fix it.

remove stopper at base

After you’ve cut away your slats, remove the bottom stopper and adjust the length as needed. This blind came 72″ long and we only needed a 48″ blind, so we shortened the cords quite a bit. This was oddly complicated and I think would be different for each type of blind, so just be prepared for a little fiddling during this step to get the cord threaded properly.

lay fabric under blind

Once your blind is the right size, lay your fabric underneath it and cut it to size, leaving 3 inches on all sides. Glue the fabric to the slats and let it dry (we let ours dry overnight, mostly because we started this at 9 pm).  Don’t glue down the cords or the blind won’t work. I put books on top as the slats were slightly curved and I wanted to make sure everything had enough surface contact to work.

use books till glue dries

Once that is dry, fold your fabric over the slats and glue around, being careful not to catch the cords. When you fold it around the top, make sure you leave space for attaching the blind to the wall. Each blind will attach differently, so you’ll have to see if you need to leave a channel (as all the other tutorials said) or wait till it’s on the wall before gluing the top (as we did, because ours didn’t just slide on). Some directions recommended ironing the sides, I did not. I don’ t think it would have made much difference.

Once your glue has dried, it’s time to hang your blind. Finn put ours up and then we had to figure out how to glue the fabric to the top to finish it. It didn’t really work and bugged me the first couple days, now I think it’s not as bad as I first thought. I need to break out our taller ladder and see if I can make it work any better (see the top left corner).


So there you go. A fake roman blind. This one came in at $50 (and I have a whole curtain panel left), much cheaper than the $300 base price I found anywhere else. It’s got some issues and I don’t really like how it looks when closed, but it’s fine for a while. Till I figure out something better. And see how clean that new window is still. At this rate I might have to frost it just so I don’t have to see my neighbors trash cans.


I used tutorials from Scoutie Girl and Little Green Notebook for this project.


Year in Review, part the first

Technically I’ve been blogging a year, although I put up my first post in November of 2011 and then didn’t post again till April 2012. Technicalities. I thought it might be fun to revisit the some projects we finished last year, if for no other reason that to remind myself that we did accomplish some things. Funny how quickly we forget. Here are the posts that bring the most traffic my way via the search engines.

owl cake

This post, on my owl cake fail and subsequent triumph through copious icing for Emmeth’s birthday, is still the post that brings the most search traffic to the blog. Every single day, apparently, someone is searching for ideas to create an Owl Cake. Who knew?

Last spring was busy. We made a living willow dome for the garden. It’s pretty nifty.

willow structure 021

We built a barn door. That was a headache. So worth it though.

build barn door

My bedroom and the barn door build. Click for details.

We redecorated the office.

emm photos + office organization 075

And the small one finally got a room that reflected who he is now, rather than who we thought he might be when he was two. He was much more opinionated than expected. I should have known.

Roan's Room after

I showed you our basement and lots of people pinned it.  It doesn’t look like this anymore (of course) but this photo still drives the most pinterest traffic.

basement and garden 037

And last on the top post lists, the Lindsey Adelman chandelier we built this fall and the straw wreaths I made for the holidays. Both fun projects that look far more complicated than they were.

make a wreath from straws

Lindsey adelman chandelier built by

So top referring posts, April – December 2012, as judged by the interwebs. Stay tuned tomorrow for actual new content, I DIY’d a roman shade. Spoiler alert, there were some issues. Stupid glue.



I know. It’s been a while. I’ve actually written a bunch of posts. In my head. Taking time off was nice. Really, really nice. I’ve just been holed up with the family, going to work as needed, having a bit of a time out. Thinking about what this space should be still. There’s so much pressure when you start a blog now – you must find your niche, have a Facebook page, do the twitter, curate your pinterest boards, be well designed, connect with other bloggers – it’s too much. It makes this much less fun. Mostly because I’m a little on the competitive side and I like to be good at things. I don’t just want to have a blog, if I’m honest with myself, I want to have a successful blog. Which sometimes feels silly, but really is about sharing and community.  And recognition (cause my house is pretty, yo). And money, because everyone knows freelance writing is where the real money is.

So, baby steps moving forward. I’m defining my niche, for the moment, as lifestyle, in particular my lifestyle. Which means, as near as I can tell, whatever I want it to (take that, silly SEO stuff I don’t understand). I like homemaking (there I said it). Not Martha perfect homemaking, there’s not a toilet brush pretty enough to make me think cleaning the bathroom is a good time (nope, not even if it’s from Germany) or that I need the perfect space for my collections (I don’t collect). Those things are fine, but they’re not me. But I like to create a pretty and functional home for myself and my family, I like a clean and organized space and I like to look at and think about things that will make those things possible. I’m going to post projects and home design-y stuff that I connect with, which tends to be beautiful, mostly minimal and practical – things that work for a family and for spaces that aren’t level and square (or large, with full height ceilings). I also like to cook, although with a similar philosophy. I like food that tastes really good but doesn’t take forever to prep. You want complicated, layered meals, well, you come over when Finn’s cooking (seriously, the boy can cook). I like to do things with my children – whether it’s homeschool-y projects, crafts or baking.  And frequently I like to commiserate about the trials of parenting my intense little brood (can you call two a brood?), although I do that more on the Facebook. And I like to garden, at least in the spring. Really, I like to set up my yard to look nice and then leave it alone, other than rearranging the plants.

I hope you all like these things too and that reading about them sounds interesting. I’d like start conversations here on how we find beauty in our spaces, despite their limitations, what steps, products, tips are useful for feeling like you can take charge of your home and create a space that is pretty and functional. Those seem to be the questions I get most from friends who visit my home in person, how do you create a functional space and curate your home. And I’d like to be a resource for simple homemaking, projects in home, kitchen, garden and family that work together and improve our lives, because I find those interesting and fun (it is rather astonishing how long it took me to admit that to myself). We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, below are some fun links to things that are, generally, nothing at all to do with homemaking. I’m such a rebel. To hell with that silly niche idea (also, sometimes I swear. You should know that by now).

Marie Osmond performs Dada poetry. Yes she does.


Best SNL skits of the year. 


David Sedaris reads 50 shades of Gray. via

Cute new stuff from Ikea coming in February.

Clothes shopping for men (spoiler, they actually leave with what they went in for). via


No Death Star for the United States


That’s not what I was looking for. 





Happy New Year!

nabokov quote obvious state

I’ve been looking for inspiration in words this past year, reading a lot more (and staying up waaay to late doing so) and writing here and other places. In this search for literary inspiration, I think there’s something extra with the start of a new year that calls for the perfect quote. One that sums up potentials, regrets, promises, hopes – beginnings. While I don’t think that any one of these prints by Evan Robertson of Obvious State is The One, together they create a sense of what the new year could bring.

obvious state literary quotes

Curiosity, ideas, truth, creation – all things I hope to nurture in the new year. And while the following don’t have a pretty print to go with, they are two of my favorite Emerson quotes.

“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Here’s to continued inspiration in the new year. What speaks to you as we move into 2013?

ps – you can find lots more of my favorite quotes on Pinterest.

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