Thursday, December 30, 2010

Playful bathrooms

A friend of my mother's was recently in her homeland of the Netherlands, and she gave her this item upon her return. It really got me thinking about a few things... 1) how in the heck do you use it? (we brainstormed and got it figured out) and 2) wow, it is really time to do something about my bathroom!!

I don't want to do too much... no changing fixtures or anything, because I know someday we will make the bathroom bigger and then I can do a big overhaul. But I need to do something for the interim to spice it up and make it a bit more pleasant. As much as I long for a chic spa-inspired bathroom where I can languish for hours in hot bubbles watching Oprah or reading Jane Austen, I have to come to terms with the fact that my life just isn't like that. I haven't taken a bubble bath in more than four years and it would be a little tough with "Bathtime Buzz" staring me in the face anyway. I share a tiny bathroom with a grown man and two four-year-old boys. So, I've decided I want the bathroom to be a fun place that gets us energized in the morning and won't look silly with a few rubber duckies strewn about.

I could definitely paint the vinyl linoleum in the bathroom to replicate this look:

There is definitely something that is simultaneously fun and classic in this look:

"Raindrops keep fallin' on my head" is a much more pleasant thought when the raindrops are rainbow-colored:

Although I can't fit this in now, someday I would love to have a little toilet nook in the bathroom:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Planting by the book

Here it is, the middle of a dreary Southern California winter rainy spell, and here I am, dreaming of greener pastures. Or vegetable gardens, as the case may be. While I hope to some day install raised veggie beds in my front yard, I don't think I'll get it together to do it for the next growing season. I do plan to get a little kitchen herb garden in by the back door and several hanging plants going, too. And I've found the perfect tool to help me! An online Vegetable Planting Calendar to guide me about when to start seeds and when to transplant (you can find a calendar for your own planting zone on the site, too).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Short List revisited

Paint trim for the boys' room
Paint stripes in the boys' room
Paint chalkboard wainscot in the boys' room
Clean and turn on the heater
Buy area rug for living room
Strip and paint trim in master closet
Strip doors
Hang succulent baskets on front porch
Build compost bin
Paint dining room walls
Begin door repairs
Strip door frames

I managed to complete a fair amount of stuff on my short list before my parents arrived. It is raining in Los Angeles now, and might be for most of the week, so we might not get too much done on this visit, but it is the holidays, so I'm happy to have some relaxed family time!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Four months: Video update

Here is what we have accomplished in four months of home ownership. I feel like it doesn't look like much has been done since the last update, but I feel like I've been working like crazy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lovely winter surprises

So it turns out that I have growing at my new digs a couple of amazing things:

1) a rose that is the color of a New Mexico sunset and actually smells the way a rose should.
2) paperwhites... in my driveway. And, of course, blooming in December because this is Southern California.

It's nice to get a couple of pleasant surprises!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's Alive!

Next year, I am going to consider renting a live Christmas tree... they drop it off and pick it up 30 days later and keeps right on growing!


Finally ordered an area rug for the living room!! It is a Nourison Country Heritage H505, 5'3"x8"3" ordered from Rugs Direct . So excited for it to get here! It will really help with selecting paint colors and fabrics. It is 100% hand hooked wool, so there will be no off-gassing and no scary chemicals were used to manufacture it (although I suppose the dyes might have scary chemicals...)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Short List

Here's what I hope to get done before my parents come to visit/work again in 2 weeks:

Paint trim for the boys' room
Paint stripes in the boys' room
Paint chalkboard wainscot in the boys' room
Clean and turn on the heater
Buy area rug for living room
Strip and paint trim in master closet
Strip doors
Hang succulent baskets on front porch
Build compost bin
Paint dining room walls
Begin door repairs
Strip door frames

And yes, I am laughing at myself as I type this. There is just no way. But one can hope!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The List: Backyard

So, my original List was woefully inadequate. Thus, I'm making a new one! One section of the house at a time, starting with the backyard because a couple of things back there are currently priority #1. The List is somewhat prioritized... although once I get past the first few things it is hard to know what will feel most important.

Finish assembling playset and put in wood chips Make composter Finish clearing out dead vines, runaway trees Make raised garden bed
Plant ornamental landscaping, including privacy screen vines
Fill in holes, backfill along play perimeter
Reseed grass
Build shed
Paint clothesline poles
Install pavers under clothesline area
Prune fig tree
Create seating areas
Create hanging planters

We actually have a friendly little squirrel who hangs around. Maybe we can get him to pitch in?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Delicious dining rooms

I'm having some dining room difficulties... these images have helped to give me a little direction. I see that I am drawn to dining rooms that are elegant yet comfortable, vivacious, colorful, warm places that inspire the appetite for food, company and conversation.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The List

We're plugging along, but the multi-tasking is getting a little overwhelming.

I'm going to have to get a little organized... (this is the short list)

In the boys' room:
Strip and paint window and door frames
Paint stripes on the accent wall
Chalkboard paint the wainscoting on the accent wall
Strip and paint the baseboards
Install roller shades
Make and install curtains
Purchase and install ceiling fans
Paint and install crown molding and chair rail

In the grown-up room:
Strip and paint baseboard in closet
Install closet organizer
Paint and stencil ceiling
Strip window trim
Paint walls
Paint and install crown molding
Strip and paint baseboard
Select, purchase, install ceiling fan/light fixture

In the dining room:
Paint ceiling, walls, trim
Strip and paint window trim and baseboards
Paint and install crown molding
Purchase secretary
(Buy a piano?)

In the living room:
Select paint
Paint ceiling, walls, trim
Strip and paint window trim and baseboards
Make hall tree from old door
Purchase flat panel TV stand and additional DVD storage

In the entryway:
Select paint
Paint ceiling, walls and trim
Stencil frost and hang mirrors

In the front yard:
Break up the ground
Plant wildflowers
Hang plant baskets
Make porch swing

In the back yard:
Finish assembling playset and put in wood chips
Make composter
Finish clearing out dead vines
Make raised garden bed

That should keep me busy until my kids graduate from college.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

All moved in

After 6 1/2 weeks and two working visits from my parents, this is where we're at!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nearly one month after closing

I have been working mostly single-handedly on the house for the last couple weeks. Luckily for all of us, my mom and dad are back in town now and we've been getting so much done since this video was shot. I'll be posting another one soon when we're all moved out of the apartment!

Friday, September 3, 2010

And now it's up to me!

With the incredible help of my dad and mom, we accomplished a huge amount in just 11 days... and only one trip to the Emergency Room (dad got a splinter from some plywood that went clear through his finger! Yikes!) I'm taking over from here and things will be much slower going, but I'll be plugging along!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What a difference a week makes

We're one week into home ownership, and this is what we have accomplished so far. I'm very lucky to have a super helpful family and a licensed contractor for a dad!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fast Forward to CLOSED

OK, so I skipped a bunch of stuff... but we have closed on a home! Here's a "before" video. We've already gotten to work and I'll be posting progress videos as we go along.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hanging Gardens

I first remember hearing about Hanging Gardens when studying world history. The Babylonians built them waaaaaay back in the day, and the idea really struck me as one ahead of its time, and one that we could benefit greatly from in today's urban areas. Then, the Topsy Turvy hit the market, opening the world of gardening to anyone with the ability to hang a plant in a sunny space. I came across an informative NY Times article all about upside down, DIY gardening, and I am getting pretty excited about the idea! This summer my "garden" consists of a potted basil, some potted arugula, a potted tomato, a potted nasturtium, and some potted chard. They're actually doing fairly well, but they would look a lot cooler hanging upside down!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I see the light...

I am completely smitten with this unusual antique crystal chandelier. I'll have to hop on down to Olde Good Things here in Los Angeles... they have two LA locations!

Faux Pas

The house we have our fingers (and toes and legs and arms and eyes) crossed in hope it will become ours comes complete with an unfortunate, added-in-the-1970s, faux stone facade on the fireplace wall in the living room. Fortunately, this page offers three very simple steps for removing it. This should be a fun undertaking and I'm actually excited to see what lurks behind it. Assuming the house becomes ours, of course!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Dish

Ever since stumbling on the image of the satellite dish gazebo for my post about offer #8, I have become absorbed with the idea of making one of my own. It is enough to get me excited about the idea of having one of those tech-dinosaurs in my new front yard!

I love the fantasy-land vibe of this one

I like the solid structural look of this one

And this one comes complete with the how-to nitty-gritty.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'm sure that those of you who have been through the house hunt, especially in a market as competitive as ours, can sympathize with the feeling that life is on hold until an offer comes through and you get to closing day. My whole family and I are so ready for this search to be done. We've been at it for about six months now! We are excited to be able to get on with our lives, our new lives, as homeowners.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Offer #8

I don't really want to get into the nitty-gritty, but it looks like our long-held offer #7 is falling through. Let's just say I am sick of banks. So we're back to making offers and we submitted #8 today.... for your consideration:

Bungalow with swing-worthy front porch
Built in 1907
Two stories
large lot
large dining room
large kitchen
two bathrooms
bonus room
FIVE bedrooms.

And it has one of these in the front yard:

which I think would be really awesome used for something like this:

Sunday, May 16, 2010


A lot of the houses we have been looking at have been graced with popcorn ceilings. And if we ever get to move into one of them, one of my first orders of business will be to get rid of that texturing! I came across this excellent resource for DIY popcorn ceiling removal, each step complete with its own instructional video! It looks pretty labor intensive, but I don't think it is something we can't handle doing on our own. So, bring on the popcorn!

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's in the bag

In my house, we're really good about taking our own bags when we go shopping. There is only one downside to this, and it is that we use those plastic shopping bags for our trash cans. So, we've been running out of bags, but we're not running out of trash (unfortunately!). While looking for biodegradable or compostable bags, I found that they were either not as biodegradable or compostable as one would hope OR they were outrageously expensive (as much a $5 per bag!). But now I have discovered Trellis Earth products and I am very excited to order my trash bags from them from now on! Their website is incredibly informative and details exactly what they mean when they claim a product is "biodegradable" or "compostable". And they sell wholesale to the public with free shipping, it can't be beat!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shutter Bug

How cool is this idea for a rotating display of your most current photo prints?

image via Hooked On Houses

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gluten Free "healthy" cookies

A friend asked me to share this recipe, so I decided to do so here! My family and I are not strictly gluten-free. We tried it for a bit and I found that my boys just weren't eating. So we introduced whole wheat bread and the occasional pizza back into our diets. But I try to do everything else gluten-free in order to limit our exposure. Hope you all enjoy this recipe! Even non-gluten-free eaters have complimented these cookies, and it is always great to sneak some extra nutrition into something we KNOW our families will eat.

It is adapted from the Sneaky Chef's Unbelievable Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.

Part 1: White Bean Puree

1 15oz. can of white beans (great northern, cannellini, navy or butter)
2-3 Tbs. water

Rinse and drain the beans. In a blender or food processor, put in some of the water and the beans and blend until very smooth. Add more water as necessary, but not too much. You want a peanut butter consistency.

I put my purees into ice cube trays and freeze them (storing them in a large freezer bag when solid). Each of my cubes is equal to 2 Tbs. It is helpful if you know how much each cube is equivalent to.

Part 2: the Cookies

Please note that I use a kitchen scale for doing my gluten-free conversions because it is better to substitute by weight than by volume. I got my manual scale at Target for 15 bucks and I use it all the time. You can also buy expensive electric scales for exact accuracy, but I have had great success with mine. As of yet, I have not managed to measure my flours by volume, but will update this blog post if I have a chance to do so.

for a grand total of 5 1/3 oz. flour:
just over 1 oz coconut flour
just over 1 oz quinoa flour
3+ oz all-purpose gluten-free baking mix (I currently use Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix but have also had similar results with Whole Food Market's 365 Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Mix--which I understand is undergoing a label change and is unavailable-- and good texture, but not as good taste, with Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
ground fine in the food processor (alternately, you could use gluten-free oat flour)
2 Tbs. almond meal Omit if allergic (alternately, you can finely grind blanched, slivered almonds in the food processor)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
10 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened OR 5 oz coconut oil
1/4 cup sugar OR 2 Tbs. applesauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
OR 2 Tbs. molasses
2 lg. eggs
(we use Ener-G Gluten-Free Egg Replacer instead)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup white bean puree
(see above, if frozen, thaw out in microwave)
1/3 cup gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional nutrition booster: 1 cup chopped walnuts or dried berries/raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients up to and including the xanthan gum. In the bowl of a mixer, mix the butter or coconut oil and sugars/sugar substitutes until creamy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and white bean puree. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed. Stir in chocolate chips and optional nuts/berries. Take small spoonfuls of dough and lightly form into a ball, then press them down onto a greased baking sheet to lightly flatten them. Space about 1 1/2" apart. Bake for 12-15 mins. Move to rack to cool.

My VERY picky boys love these cookies so much. We make them multiple times a week, they love to help with the measuring and mixing, and they eat them all up very quickly! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Instead of the wearing o' the green, here's a little decorating with green... as in environmentally friendlier furniture from Viesso.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Came across this website via Reclaimed Home. Yes, I imagine I will be spending a lot of time there.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

There's gold in them thar trash cans...

...Yukon Golds, that is! I happen to know this incredible woman who owns a business called Hope Gardens here in the LA area. And she's got these awesome bins that you can grow your own organic potatoes in!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

If you can't stand the heat, remodel your kitchen

I stumbled upon, a company that offers custom-measured cabinetry in a huge variety of styles and finishes at a really great price! As much as I want my new home (whenever I get it!) to be a sustainable as possible, it is hard to say no to such a wise use of resources (financial resources, that is!)

Getting the rug pulled out...

We were feeling pretty confident and relaxed about our house situation. Of course, we knew that we were dealing with a short sale and that meant a chance that the bank would not approve the sale and that we'd be in for a long process. But, we had an accepted offer and we were ready to sit back and take a breather from the house hunt process. I was even decorating the place in my mind. Then, on Sunday as we were leaving the house, we noticed some Open House signs (the house is only a couple of blocks from our current digs). I ordered my husband to turn around and what do we behold but an Open House at "our" house!

Turns out that realtors do this a lot. They hold an open house at a home already under contract as a way to reel in more clients. But we also learned that if a higher offer comes in before the bank approves the sale then we'll be kicked to the curb.

So, we're back to looking again, because we'd hate to lose months and months of valuable hunting time, just to have this deal fall through on us. Nobody ever let on that this would be an easy process!

Sunday, February 28, 2010


If I ever get a chance to redo the bathroom in what we hope will be our new house, I say "yes" and "yes" to the hammered copper sink and tub from Fine Crafts Imports. The best news is that they are just up the road apiece in Camarillo, California! (Saves a lot on shipping a 164 lb. tub).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Escrow! (sort of...)

Offer #7 (lucky 7?) has been accepted! That means that we are, in effect, in escrow. Of course, Lucky 7 is a short sale. So that means that it could be 3-8 months before we even get to the inspections and what-not. And the bank could still say "no". But, it is better than nothing!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A friend just pointed me in the direction of Rejuvenation Hardware. Yes, this whets my appetite.

Friday, February 19, 2010

offer #7

A 2 bedroom, 1 bath Spanish style home with an enormous kitchen and a one-car garage in Highland Park. It is in excellent condition. The trade-off is that the lot is a bit smaller than our ideal, but this house could be an excellent investment.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

offer #6

Looks like we'll be submitting offer #6 pretty soon! It is a 1899 craftsman, two stories, four bedrooms 1 3/4 baths wit a large lot and a 3 (!) car garage located in Highland Park very convenient to shopping, transportation, and a park. And it has lovely built-ins and a couple beautiful stained glass windows! It also comes with problems, of course, like a foundation in need of repair and termite issues and a bad roof on the garage, but we've decided we're willing to give it a go!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A new home away from home

I think I've found a place where I will be spending a lot of my time in the future!

The Reclaimed Home. Check it out!

Cinema therapy

I think my husband and I need to see this movie again before we buy a house. Considering the price point we're looking in, I think we're in for a big fixer and this might be just what we need to get us up to the task!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Somebody pinch me!

(image from Big Chill, a Boulder-based company. Gotta show the love to the homies!)
Dreams really do come true! There are people out there making new appliances in retro styles! I'm one step closer to my dream kitchen!