11.05.2014

T-day Torture

Let me set the record straight: Thanksgiving is the BEST.  I love the food, the hanging out with friends/family, the fall atmosphere.  To top it off, it was my mom's favorite, so I like to carry on her traditions.

So it's torture that I have no idea if we'll have a baby by then! Will we?  Won't we?  Ack!

That said, Rush's mom has volunteered to take on cooking the meal, but of course, if I'm not pregnant, I want to cook it (or at least help).

One of my non-negotiables is this cranberry sauce recipe from the original Domino mag.  So easy and so delicious - esp when served as a sort of jam on leftover rolls the day after...

Cranberry-Clementine Sauce
(1) 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
(1) clementine
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup water

Wash the cranberries, remove any stems and throw out any squishy berries. Strain and put in a medium pot. Slice the clementine in half through the equator and then into razor-thin slices. Add the clementine, water and sugar to the cranberries.

Stir and heat on medium to a boil. After it reaches boiling, let it boil for a few seconds until you can tell the berries are starting to burst. Reduce heat to simmer and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Sauce with thicken a bit as it cools. You can make this a day or two in advance and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.

10.30.2014

Bathroom - GO TIME

Ok, so there may be things dumber (too harsh?) than starting a bathroom reno on the only bathroom in one's home when you're 35.5 weeks pregnant. Maybe. But alas, we have found ourselves in this position, and we're going for it.

We brought in a bunch of contractors to take a look at the job and got quotes from 4. They ranged from (in our opinion) outlandish to preposterous ($12 - $16k WITHOUT materials!).  Guys, we're talking about a room that is a little over 6' x 8' at its very widest/largest points. Yes, it's a gut job (going down to the studs), but seriously?

We talked with Rush's parents, who recently re-did every bathroom in their home, and Rush's dad completely agreed that we were being quoted some ridiculous #s.  His handyman is proficient in all things bathroom, so we hatched a plan to actually bring Rush's dad and Pat the Handyman out to complete the bathroom.  Again, probably dumb, but we couldn't figure a way around it.

Now for the "before" photos.  Ugh, it's kind of embarrassing.  Nothing about this bathroom is what we want, but it's been passable for the past 5 years.  The house is 60 years old and still has the original plaster walls in the bathroom, so that sort of necessitates gutting the room and starting at the studs.  There's some water damage from before we replaced the roof, and the ceiling was not prepped carefully and probably suffered due to the super cheap (and 'jet taking off' noise level) fan.

Barely big enough to even take a photo



Cheapo vanity that I hit my head on whenever getting something from below

Water damage in the plaster

Ceiling damage due to condensation and bad prep

So what are we going for with the remodeled bath? So glad you asked. I have Pinterested the hell out of this bathroom project.  

Original inspo photo:
Via

Revised inspo:
Via

So we're doing a white subway tile (oh-so-original, I know) with a darker grout and a herringbone tile in a dark wood/slate pattern.  We're going to do a wainscot around the bath and all new fixtures with a more modern look.  Again, nothing is going to get us featured in a design mag, but it'll be a really nice update. We will likely be selling the house within 6 months and feel like the changes will give us an edge when we do.

So that's the news for now. I'll post some updates when we get underway (Monday, 11/3).  Can't wait!!!



9.03.2014

Cry like a baby

You know what made me cry like a baby? The cost of cribs and nursery furniture! I really didn't want to blow the bank, but I also had a specific look in mind (always dangerous).

I wanted the room to fresh and light and be a comfortable place to hang out (since I suspect I have a lot of hanging out to do while nursing, changing, trying to get a certain someone to sleep). Somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted a white furniture kind of look which is not the most obvious for a boy's room. Most of the boy rooms I see are all natural or dark woods which just feels a little too grown up for the Guppy (especially since he hasn't even been born yet).

Our house is not big. Ok, truthfully, our house is small, and the baby room is the smallest of the three small bedrooms. I knew we needed smallish furniture and the dresser needs to do double duty as a changing table. I know lots of people say they change diapers wherever, but our house is so tiny (and one floor), that I'm hoping to contain diaper changing to the baby room. I'm also not very tall (understatement), so I want a relatively low dresser where I don't feel like the baby is right under my nose.

In walked (ok, it was carried) the Mandal Dresser from Ikea.


I like the leg shape, the easy open drawers (without handles), and I like that outside is actual wood. Most Ikea stuff is laminate (like the drawers), but the real wood makes the whole things feel warmer and more expensive. For $249, sold.

Next up... rocking chair.  While I love the look of the old timey rocking chairs, I know I will have a lot of late nights in said chair and require maximum comfort. Again, I didn't want to blow the bank on the chair, but I knew I would need to spend some extra cash to get what I wanted. I scoured craigslist and diy sites and considered taking a regular chair and turning it into a glider but ultimately decided I wouldn't save that much after the cost of the chair and the hardware.

I sat in a bunch of chairs at Babies R Us and ultimately decided on the Kacy Madison Glider that was on sale (15% off). If you buy in store, you can choose a fabric from quite a few options, but I ultimately decided on the one that would show the least dirt/spit up stains/dog hair. It also happened to be the "off the shelf" option. Plus, the store ended up giving me 20% off instead of 15%, so it was an extra good day. It's a little less brown than the image but not much. Final price on sale, $320. 


And of course the last big decision and purchase is the crib. While I plan to have the Guppy in our room for a couple months for ease of nursing, I also know that I am a light sleeper and will likely sleep MUCH better once he transitions to his own room. While I know nothing about newborns, I'm hoping to have him nap in the crib at times as well so that he gets used to it.  

Now this is where you can really blow the bank which is kind of funny considering it's the least long-term piece of furniture you need. Yes, most now transition to toddler and then twin or full size beds, I still don't need to spend $1200 (or more). Our bed didn't cost anywhere near that, and we sleep juuuuust fine at night (or did before I was pregnant anyway).  

I looked and looked and looked. Requirements: a white crib without looking to cheap or girly. Oh, and of course, it needs to be cool and kind of modern looking. I found the Babyletto line pretty instantly and determined (after a girlfriend told me about hers) that was probably the right choice for our style and budget. But I couldn't leave well enough alone. $400 for the crib still seemed like more than I really wanted to spend, so I scoured the world wide interwebs and hit on a well kept secret. Babyletto's parent company produces a line REMARKABLY similar to the regular Babyletto line that is sold exclusively at Walmart. And the prices are about half of the regular Babyletto line. I'm honestly not sure why they're doing it, but I'm glad they are.  Enter...the Marley Crib.  


Sorry the photo isn't better. In real life, the base is a bit darker and goes well with the light wood on the Ikea dresser.  Final price?  $229. Yes, please!

The only bummer is that the crib arrived with a broken part (though I was able to confirm that it's actual wood). I phoned the company, and they're shipping out a replacement piece immediately at no charge. And to top it off, Walmart gave me a $25 credit for the trouble. Yay!

Once we put the crib together, I'll post a follow up with photos of the "finished" nursery. All told, though, I'm please we were able to get the look we wanted and spend about $800 for three high quality pieces of furniture that should last thru the next 5+ years. 

Have you shopped for a nursery? Did you get what you wanted at the price you wanted, or did you have to compromise?



8.20.2014

Food52

I follow along with a food site called Food52 which teaches me a lot and also inspires me. This morning, under the influence of pregnancy hormones, I saw their post on these cinnamon sugar donut holes and just HAAAAAAD to get up and make them. They're really very good. I would like one (just one, I swear) every morning for the next year...

The (evil) inspiration




Mine. All mine.

8.14.2014

Please don't judge...

Ok, so we're in a bit of a transition.  A transition from two to three.  Or four to five.  Our office/dog bedroom is going to be the Guppy (as the babe is known around here) room, so we're in the process of cleaning it up and moving the office to the guest room which will now serve double duty.  The dogs have been evicted officially.  

But MAN is it a lot of work.  I wish someone would come do it for me.  Sort of.  Please don't judge.  It's a mess.  


First order of business was clearing the room of kennels.  We still use "baby" Buck's at night.  Olive's is just for when we leave them in the evenings.  We're going to move her to our baby gated kitchen and then try to leave her solo (fingers crossed for no destruction).  In order to make Buck feel safe/secure in his new location (and make it less unsightly, I made a cover for his kennel to match the living room.  Just so happens I had the perfect amount of material leftover from the extra pillows I made for the sofa...


Hard to see, I know.  Here's the the new kennel cover...



I didn't use a pattern but instead just kind of held the fabric up to the kennel and sewed as I went. I used my serger (yay) and even used it to make the "blind" hems on the bottom and edges.  Was definitely trial/error, but it looks quite good if I say so myself.  

Next up is patching a few holes with some spackle.  Of course, the house was painted when we moved in, and we like it, so we've left it.  However, I had no idea what color they used, so I did a little sleuthing.  I know they used Glidden paints because they left some decrepit cans in the garage.  I picked up a whole load of chips and believe I found the correct one:


So I'm off to Home Depot (again) to pick up a little can to do some touch ups.  I'm considering taking down the shelves (at least on the left side of the window) because I bashed my head into them several times while cleaning up the room.  It'll be a while before the Guppy can do that, but it might save me from further head trauma.  Might, I say.  

Btw, when looking at these photos, it seems like our whole house is greige.  Yech.  I promise, there is definitely color.  More to come on the Guppy's room...


8.06.2014

Desperado...

You  know what makes me sad?  When a blogger I like just up and deserts their blog... I sit there wondering, "was it low traffic? too much going on outside their blog? they just gave up?" Would be nice if they at least said goodbye!

Has this happened to you?  

7.03.2014

Good Deal!

Do you ever find something online and just wish you needed it?  I do...  Like this couch.  Seems like an insane deal at $559.  Yes, less than $600 for the WHOLE couch!

Kendall Sofa - in Fog
 

6.25.2014

A little news...

I have been so dang tired recently (ohhhh who hasn't, you think...).  No, I swear.  Too tired to cook.  Too tired to craft.  Too tired to shop.  Too tired to do anything that's not 100% required.  Why?  Oh, well... I'm growing a human!


We're having a little boy at the beginning of December!  So trippy (and I never say that kind of thing).  By far the biggest commitment I've ever made - even beyond agreeing to be married.  We're thrilled but exhausted - at least I am.

Forgive me if I'm missing; now you know why...

6.10.2014

Line Drawn

Do you ever write something on your to-do list after you've completed it just so you can draw a line thru it?  I do.  And I'm not ashamed of it either!

Via

6.05.2014

Buckaroo


I've talked about Olive here a fair bit,  so I thought I would talk a little about Buck and the rescue organization who adopted him to us. 

Buck is a German Shorthaired Pointer mix (lab, probably) who was found with his mom and litter near the Saltan Sea in southern California.  We had been looking for a second pup for a while but non-pit, non-chihuahua are very hard to come by around us.  I found the CA GSP Rescue and started keeping an eye on their adoptable dogs.  When Buck's litter became available, I jumped. 

Neither Rush nor I had ever adopted from a rescue (Olive came from a friend who could no longer keep her), so we took the process incredibly seriously.  We answered every question on their forms in earnest and hoped to be picked.  When they contacted us to set up a time to meet the available puppies, we felt like we had won the lottery. 

A couple weeks later, we drove south to meet the awesome volunteers and the puppies.  Rush and I agreed that if we didn't think any of the pups was a good fit for Olive, we would walk away, no matter how hard it was.  Olive is not an aggressive or dominant dog but she absolutely doesn't stand for being dominated by other dogs.  I describe her as "assertive". :)  Ultimately, that probably meant we needed a more submissive dog to match her...

On the morning of the adoption, we drove out to the ranch where the adoptable dogs meet on Saturday mornings.  They introduced the adoptable pups to us (and Olive) one by one.  The first pup was definitely the most "handsome" and the most confident.  He was feisty and playful.  The second pup was, well, the "middlest".  Not as confident, not quite as handsome (a slightly goofier body shape), and the middle in terms of size.  The third was so skittish that he was trying to get out of the big pen the second he was brought in.  Eventually, he did warm up and play with all the other dogs.

We spent a couple hours throwing balls and observing all the pups (and Olive's reaction to them).  Rush and I both agreed that the middle pup would be the best choice because #1 would challenge Olive (and not in a good way).  He was the most dominant of the three, and we suspected he would try to dominate Olive eventually.  He was also ball focused which is great for exercise but could create problems because Olive is a very serious ball chaser.  #2 would occasionally chase balls and #3 was not interested.  #2 also seemed to have more confidence than #3 and a sort of "happy go lucky" attitude.

We decided to proceed and found out the puppy's foster name was Buck.  We immediately knew he was ours.  Rush had a beloved Uncle Buck, a veterinarian, who passed away 7 years ago.  We hemmed and hawed over his name for a couple days and ultimately got the blessing from Uncle Buck's family to keep Buck's name in his honor.  They were touched.

I liken getting Buck to having a second kid (of which I know nothing about).  You have one kid and you think, "ok, so this is what it's like.  This is what kids are like".  And then you have another and they're NOTHING like the first, and it's sort of a surprise!  Olive is a serious dog.  She is ready for action at any moment, sleeps with one eye open, and wants to please all the time.  Buck is the biggest goofball I can imagine.  He rolls around on his back, tosses toys for himself across the room, and gets the "zoomies", running unprovoked and unchased around the yard like a crazy dog. He is a goof and we love him.

We're so thrilled to have found a dog to complement Olive's intensity.  She's so good and patient with his antics, and he makes her more playful.

We totally recommend the CA GSP Rescue if looking to adopt a GSP in southern California.  They're dedicated to taking care of the breed and finding good homes for all of their adoptable pups.  We're so lucky to have Buck!


Our kids, Olive and Buck

3.25.2014

lasagna light bulb

I like lasagna. It's just warm and comforting and filling and warm. Yes, I said it twice.  I like that it's hearty and that the top gets kinda crunchy and brown. My stomach is rumbling.

That said, I have a weird aversion to squishy dairy. What's that, you ask? Exactly like what it sounds... sour cream, yogurt, even ice cream that's too soft and melty.  Which brings us to my problem...the ricotta.

Seems like every lasagna recipe has ricotta, but it's just not appealing to me.  Recently, I had a breakthrough. And while it's more work, it's WELL worth the effort if you, too, are averse to squishy dairy.

BECHAMEL. If you're not familiar, it's basically milk, garlic, and flour all mixed up and simmered to actually cook the flour. It acts like the binder that the ricotta usually fills in for.  And its sooooooo much better.

I found a few recipes that suggest a bechamel instead:

Smitten Kitchen's Lasagna Bolognese --- I called this my opus. I made the sauce, the pasta, the bechamel and then the actual lasagna.  And when I finished, I was nearly too tired to eat it.  BUT it lead me to my bechamel revelation. I made it again without making the pasta, and it was still good (but not as good).

Birthday Lasagna -- untested but sounds spot on.

GL's Classic Italian Lasagna - also untested but sounds delish!

Have you made a lasagna with bechamel?  Any favorite recipes?

2.27.2014

cementing a little change...

I like cement.  I like its industrial nature.  I like its natural grey tone.  I have always been intrigued by cement counters and cement floors.  I picked up a couple of these little cement planters at Target recently and thought, "There. Design itch satisfied".  But it wasn't.

I haven't loved our coffee table ever.  It was supposed to be somewhat temporary, but it's a good size and the dogs can sort of sneak under it if they need to get up, and its height is generally enough to miss the sweep of puppy tails.  But it's not good.  The shape is good and the style is good, but the wood on top was not wood but some sort of laminate.  Yech. It was inexpensive, so I can't blame it (just myself).

Kinda like this (but not at all due to the laminate):

via West Elm
And then it hit me: cover the thing in cement!  I loved what Jenny at Little Green Notebook did in her laundry room, so why not?!

First, I tried locating the Ardex Feather Finish, but I couldn't find it locally and immediately.  Home Depot stocks something called Henry Feather Finish with Ardex technology, so why not?  Off I went...

I picked up the cement mix, a putty knife, a drywall taping knife (basically a giant putty knife), and a drywall mud pan.  I already had sandpaper in 120 and 180, so I set off for home to get started.

I'm a dingdong and didn't take a "before" before I removed the top of the table from the base.  But I did take a photo before I started covering it up with cement:

Bad/fake wood grain

First step was to rough up the wood.  I sanded all visible sides with heavy duty sandpaper. 


Then I mixed up my first batch.  I didn't want to use anything that I would want to use again, so I measured using a solo cup and mixed it with a plastic spoon.  Classy.  Basically, the consistency is kind of like a paste.  The directions called for a 2/1 ratio of cement to water which I tried to follow:


I then started the "slathering".  As other tutorials suggest, build up the edges a bit. 




This is partway dry.  I scraped the little ridges down a bit and let dry overnight.


The next morning, I sanded (with 120 grit) and then put on another layer.  I let dry, sanded again, and put on another layer.

Once dry, I sanded the whole thing down pretty well and applied a layer of Valspar's Natural Look Waterproofer, let dry, and another layer of sealer.  Seeing a pattern here?

All told I did 3 layers of cement (though it could have stood to get 4) and two layers of the sealer.

Once completely dry, I screwed the top back on the table and... voila!


I'm completely happy with this project.  It took a super cheap piece of furniture and actually added value, in my eyes.
Now, I could have done a better job on the corners, but I honestly don't think it's a huge deal. Because the concrete has such visual texture (despite being smooth and flat), it's not noticeable at all.  Next project (and you better believe I'm gonna cover something else in concrete!), I'll build up any corners and shave them down versus trying to be so careful and type-a.  

wood showing thru on the corner
Great texture in the concrete

 Oh, you want to see the whole thing again?  Boom.



LOVE IT.




2.21.2014

Bargain?

This linen duvet seems like a really good bargain.  If only I were a solid duvet-type of girl.  Maybe I could be that girl for this price!


2.05.2014

I'm nacho friend!

I know, this has been around the world wide interwebs for a while, but I was just reminded of it, and it made me giggle all over again.  I wanna be friends with this guy's wife because we clearly have the same sense of humor.  And I wanna be friends with the guy because he obviously loves his wife.