Kids, the Dutch door is here!

Today's the day! See ya later craptastic back door! Pics to come tomorrow... xo, k


Greek Key

Aaaaaaand now I'm obsessed with Greek key trim.  Sigh.

(House Beautiful... obviously. :)

(via Pinterest)

(via Lisa Queen Design)

All is busy, busy, busy around the house!  Here's what's happening this week and beyond:

1.  I'm ready to pick up the Ikea Aina curtains and get to hanging!  I haven't had floor length curtains in YEARS (thus is my life with busy little boys and their busy little fingers.)
2.  The Captain and Bubby oversaw the tree trimmers today as they cut down two huge trees across the street.  The Captain has mentioned on numerous occasions that he wants to grow up to be a professional tree climber so you can imagine how exciting this was for him!
3.  I've been doing a little advising on my neighbor's mini kitchen remodel.  Not much, but giving tidbits of advice, talking through options, referring my favorite subcontractors... you know... the fun stuff! :)  We've come up with some pretty simple, yet effective solutions to make her tiny kitchen really work for her.  Anyway, we have another organizing and brain-storming session this week.  I'll be anxious to share the results!
4.  I have obscene amount of work to do in the yard.
5.  The garden is booming and I need to add the cucumber supports... STAT!
6.  And here's the big, huge, enormous news of the century... we pick up our new Dutch door on Friday!!!!!!!  YAHOOO!

Well, that's it from me... I'm off to bed!

xo, k


Curtains, curtains, curtains...

Awkward things people have said to me:

"I noticed you guys were up late painting last night."

"It's been really fun to look in the windows and see everything you're doing."

"We're so bummed you got blinds!"

Seriously.  We've heard all of this and so much more.  To be fair, every window in our home used to be either glass block or completely covered by shrubs.  I'm sure it has been loads of fun for the neighbors to watch our house transform!  However, after a few weeks of uncomfortable comments, it became clear that we needed a solution... STAT.  So we did what any cash strapped home remodeler does... we headed to Home Depot for some off the shelf cut-to-size blinds.  They were cheap, the kids couldn't pull them down and they afforded us a little privacy for late-night painting and mornings in pajamas.

Now that we're more settled in the home and the boys are getting older, I'd really like to bump up the style.  White honeycomb blinds only go so far, you know?  Naturally, I've been visiting all the classic haunts trying to hunt down an affordable solution, but short of buying my own fabric and sewing the blinds myself, it's all looking pretty darn expensive.  After all, we're dealing with windows that are at least 102" wide!  Just try finding affordable rods and curtains that aren't cheap looking and/or polyester.    Sigh.  Well yesterday, I took my 500th trip to Ikea and think I found a solution!  You see, I'd looked at the Aina curtains before, but this time I noticed the little pleat that is created when you use their hooks (the ones that you're supposed to use when modifying it to fit the curtain rail.)  Anyway, I think I can easily pleat the curtain, attach it to curtain hooks and get the look I'm after!

So just in case you're wondering what solidified my decision, check out the following images and amazing DIYers... linen curtains, here I come!

(via Costal Living)

Oh, great.  Now I want to add this cute little trim!  I HIGHLY doubt the testosterone committee will approve. (via New House Project)

I actually might win the boys over with some Greek Key trim!  This little detail keeps it from getting too country...  (via  So Haute)

I think Joan is not only FABULOUS but also Aina's biggest fan. :) (via For the Love of a House)

The Aina curtains featured again in her master bedroom.  And did you see they are hung on a bamboo rod she purchased for $1?!?  (via For the Love of a House)

That's all for now, kids!  I'll make sure to post when I have the little makeover completed!

xo, k

Edible Landscaping...

Can we talk for a minute about vegetables and ornamentals mingling?  Yes?  Oh, good.

As you know, we had to rip out practically everything in the yard.  So over the past year, I've been slowly re-shaping the landscape and trying to figure out how we want to live, eat and play in our space.  The number one requirement of our yard is that it have an edible component.  While we've definitely started down that road, there is sooooo much that needs to be done.  I'm also slowly changing my previous notions that veggies and ornamentals should be kept separate.

Growing up, we had a rectangular vegetable garden with beautiful, neat rows.  It was gorgeous and functional, but now I find myself living in a house that sits on an unconventional, triangular piece of property.  That little rectangular plot does not fit in my yard.  So this past year, I've started thinking of things a bit differently.  Sure I have two 3'x6' raised beds, but I also have a mad collection of pots, fruits and veggies scattered throughout the yard.  Every day I fall more and more in love with this idea of the edible landscape.  Why should I relegate my veggies to one part of the yard?  Well I, for one, demand we co-mingle!

Last weekend, I was actually flipping through the Seattle Times and came across this article about Rosalind Creasy.  If you are a NW gardener, she probably needs no introduction.  If you have never seen her work, let me just say, she creates edible gardens that really and truly draw you in.  Her designs evoke a modern take on the quaint potager garden... a little more wild, but equally as romantic.  In lieu of one focal point, she creates many focal points centered around height (vining and tall specimens), contrasting textures and colors, each one drawing you further into the space.

So now you know what I'll be doing this summer... trimming my beds with boxwoods and introducing my veggies to my ornamentals.  :)

As always, leaving you with a little inspiration from the binder...

Rosalind Creasy's bountiful front yard!

Teepee/wigwam (via)... already have one in my corner "mixed" bed... now I just need to add in that boxwood border!

Just need to throw in a few more veggies! (via)

Now THAT'S a front yard! (via)

Happy gardening!

xo, k


Children's Nook

As a mom, I'm always trying to make spaces and places for children.  In the garden, in my kitchen, in their room... children love places to hide away and imagine.  The Captain, in particular, loves hiding under tables, stacking cushions to make tunnels and creating little moments.  The hardest part about this is that my throw pillows are never actually on the furniture and blankets are always draped across tables.  Great for kids, not so great if you want a house that looks like it belongs to adults.  So I guess it's always my hope that I can create little nooks and hideaways that enable the boys to be boys, and allow my home to maintain some shred of order.  :)

So when I saw the following image in House Beautiful, I just about died!  Not only would I want this for the boys, but I want this for myself!  So today I'm bringing you my favorite adult-friendly kid nooks.  As the first designer, Ann Wolf, said of the following image, "It's a private, magical little space at the heart of the house, where your imagination can run wild."  And that's always my hope and dream... to create a life where my children can imagine, dream, live and make believe.

The beautiful reading nook created by Ann Wolf (House Beautiful, June 2011)

Loooooove this one!  (Found on Pinterest... anyone know the source?)

Both functional and beautiful!  The sleeping nook created by the built-in storage leaves plenty of floor space for active play. (Tim Barber)

Sigh.  Maybe I need to bump out a wall or two to create some nook spaces... Just kidding, hubby!

Got to go and finish watching "Being Elmo"... have you seen this documentary?  I greatly underestimated the power of this film.  Equally entertaining and beautiful!  You've got to see it!

xo, k


A Tuscan Villa

I was going through the binder last night and stumbled upon this article featuring the lovingly restored Tuscan villa of Dede Pratesi (Architectural Digest, October 2011).  I'm not much for the uber traditional, but this is perfection!  I'm also particularly drawn to the masses of terra-cotta pots because it echoes a bit of what I have going on at my little Seattle villa. :)  Yup, I've inherited a mixed lot of cracked and aging terra-cotta planters that I adore!  Oh, and it also makes me feel like we are making record time on our remodel.  Pratesi has been at this for THIRTY-FIVE years!!!  She wisely comments, "A house like this, you restore every day. It's always a work in progress."

Such a stunning entrance!  The mismatched pots, the variety of plantings, the gravel path... I love that it isn't too precise or too perfect.

Who doesn't love a grotto?!?

I looooove this kitchen!  The beams, the hanging baskets, the fireplace, the copper pots... there is such a beautiful warmth to this space.

The limonaia... traditionally used to store potted lemon trees during winter.  You know my love for the potted citrus!  Hmmm...  I wonder how the Handy Husband would feel about a little construction project?  HA!

I love this little glimpse into the stairwell... the intricate floors, bold color combinations, and beautiful draperies.  

That's all for tonight, kids!  I'm off to bed.

xo, k


Brotherly Love

Sometimes brotherly love looks like a big WWF smack down... other times it looks like this:

The Captain teaching Bubby how to drive the tractor at the zoo.

Today I am grateful for brotherly love and thankful I was able to give the boys the gift of sibling-hood. It's a precious thing.

Today the sun is shining and you'll find me out in the garden!  Be back later, kids!

xo, k


Plant Talk

Top 3 things people hear me say in the garden:

1.  Aren't you gorgeous?!?
2.  Oh my goodness... your stem is looking SOOO healthy!
3.  Perk up little guy!  What do you need?  Nitrogen?  More water?

Turns out I'm NOT crazy!

Fellow plant-talker, Prince Charles. (via)

According to a new British study, plants talk to each other and are sensitive to what we say!  I knew my veggies liked a little positive encouragement.  Check out the full article over at Gardenista.  I think the comments by fellow garden-lovers are actually the best part. :)

Just a short little post today.  I've been cleaning up sick kiddos for two days and now mama has the crud.  Blek!  Off to bed I go... fully validated, but quite sniffly.

xo, k


One Year Ago...

One year ago, we were exhausted, clinging to hope and in need of a major vacation.  So we took one.

I was the only one awake on the plane to Hawaii...

It was the best vacation ever!  I had so desperately wanted to be in the house before we left, but it just didn't happen.  The acid from the cat/dog pee was still in the hardwoods (yes... 7 months later!) and it reared its ugly head.  We had to remove half the hallway and two different areas in the living room after it buckled the finish on the floors.  This set us back another 3 weeks (and I nearly lost it!)  So we jumped on the plane anyway, knowing we would return rested and ready for the final push.

Upon our return, the handsome (did I also mention handy?) husband dove head first into completing the handrail and I was assigned painting.  Our previous home was a myriad of bright colors and, after such long remodeling process, we craved a calming palette that would marry well with the outdoors.  It was a challenge picking the paint colors (isn't it always?) for the house.  Literally every exterior wall was a massive picture window and that much natural light can really change a paint color.  So after 19 little paint testers ($3 each at the Home Depot... money well spent, I think) here is what we settled on:

Martha Stewart - Driftwood Gray

Martha Stewart - Flagstone

Martha Stewart - Heath

Martha Stewart - Macadamia

Martha Stewart - Mourning Dove

Martha Stewart - Schoolhouse Slate

I honestly couldn't be more happy with the colors!  A year later, I still have more painting to do (isn't that always the way?) but I am in LOVE with what has been done.  As for the handsome husband's project, his handrail enabled us to pass our final safety inspection and move into the house!  We still have to complete the decorative caps and putty and paint all the little nail holes, but we are almost there.  *Sigh*  Such is the life of the do-it-yourself home remodeler.  :)

I'll leave you with some inspiring stairwell images that I still love to look at.  As far as our staircase is concerned, we decided on a stained handrail with white balusters and newel posts.  The combo blends well with the floors, but still keeps the space light and bright!  Eventually we'd love to change out the carpeted stairs for wooden treads, white risers and a beautiful runner, but that look will have to wait until we have a larger budget.  Ha!

Staircase of Scott Sanders (would you look at that gorgeous gallery wall?!?) via House Beautiful

I love the stripped runner and stained floors! via House Beautiful

Robin Bell's gorgeous landing via House Beautiful

Guess what's also on the project list?  You guessed it!  A gallery of beloved family photos in the stairwell.

xo, k


So you have buttermilk... now what?

My mom and her sisters lost their mother when they were barely adults.  All three of them remember being in their mid-twenties and trying to piece together family holidays... a seemingly impossible task without their mother's guidance (or her recipes).  One of their early attempts at Thanksgiving included ordering a Tom (male turkey) so big they literally couldn't close the oven door. 

Today, I am truly humbled in their culinary presence.  Each of the sisters has their area of expertise and they can cook anything.  I learned to make endless pasta combinations and the art of roasting from my mother.  My Aunt Kathy taught me how to make chicken soup from scratch (including noodles) and endless desserts.  My Aunt Bridget taught me to make bread, freezer jam and to always have a back-up meal.  :)  However, they all taught me to be brave and bold in the kitchen.  

So about 5 years ago I began collecting their recipes.  Almost every recipe had to be "translated" because they are continually changing, updating, improving, testing new variations.  I'm nowhere near finished collecting their wisdom, yet I did stumble upon one recipe that I make almost weekly.  In fact, the reason I made butter to begin with was because I needed buttermilk for my Aunt Bridget's banana bread recipe.  So if you're wondering what to do with buttermilk, look no further!

The Captain and his favorite treat!

Best Ever Banana Bread

2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup mashed bananas
1-1/2 cup white sugar
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I often use half regular and half whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325.  Spray one 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.  Blend together the eggs, buttermilk, oil and bananas.  Sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.  Add to banana mixture and stir in pecans if desired.  Mix well.  Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.


xo, k


Holy Cow! I made butter!

Handsome Husband:  Hey, babe!  How was your day?

Me:  Oh, you know... the usual.  I did some laundry, dishes, played with the kids, made some butter...

HH:  Ummm, excuse me?

Me:  Well, you know... we were low on butter and I needed buttermilk for that one recipe, so I killed two birds with one stone.  BAM!  Butter and buttermilk!  Genius.

HH:  I think there's something wrong with you.

Me:  Probably, but you know you love it.  Also, I'm increasing our chances of surviving major disaster with each of my domestic engineering feats... so really you should thank me.

HH:  You know you can just buy butter and buttermilk, right?

Me:  Boooooring!

HH:  (Sigh)

So here's the full story.  I was looking online for how to make buttermilk at home because I needed some for a recipe.  I thought I remembered something about mixing milk and vinegar and letting it sit, but I couldn't quite remember.  Anyway, Google led me down quite a different path and what I discovered was that you can make butter with the byproduct being (drumroll, please) buttermilk!  Holy Cow!  Butter?  At home?  Don't I need a churn and some wooden clogs?  As it turns out, all you need is a mixer and some heavy cream... a spatula, strainer and dishtowel are nice accessories to have as well.

So here it is... how I made butter and buttermilk at home:

1.  You start with a mixer, wire whisk and heavy cream.  If you use cream that has warmed slightly to 60 degrees or so, it'll make the process go a lot quicker.

2.  Pump that baby up until you are mixing on the highest speed possible.  Use a dishtowel to form a "tent" over your mixer... thus containing the splatter.  If you have a fancy splatter guard, even better!  I couldn't find mine so I MacGyvered one by using a flour sack cloth towel.

3.  You'll soon notice your cream move past the "stiff peak" phase of whipped cream and begin clumping together.

4.  Here is where it starts to become super cool.  It's as if you blink your eyes and all of a sudden, your whipping cream looks waaaay more yellow than white!  It's about to get all magical... wait for it...

5.  You see that little line of separation where the cream once clung to the bowl?  That's what victory looks like.  Some refer to the mixture as "cracking".  Essentially, it's the moment when the fats of the cream separate from the liquid!

6.  A few seconds later, this is what you have!  Little grains of butter with buttermilk pooled at the bottom.

7.  Squish the butter to the side of your bowl and pour of the sweet, sweet buttermilk!

8.  You see that?  Stay tuned because tomorrow I'm going to show you what to do with this stuff!

9.  Next, switch out your wire whisk for a flat beater.  Trust me.  You don't want to spend the next half hour trying to get butter out of your wire whisk.  Anyway, add super duper ice cold water to the bowl and beat the butter (slowly) some more.  The goal is to end up with clear liquid after working the butter.

10.  I'm getting close... only a little cloudy!  Make sure to pour off the cloudy water (don't keep it!) and add a bit more fresh water to the bowl.  Mix again.  You'll probably repeat this process 4-5 times.

11.  Getting even closer!  Some may call it good at this stage, but I'm neurotic thorough so I want to eliminate all the buttermilk.  If you don't, your butter will spoil much faster.

 12.  We've arrived!  Butter!  At this point, I balled it up by hand and gave it one final rinse under running, ice-cold water.  You then squeeze out all the excess water and place it in a dish of your choosing.

13.  The final product... butter and buttermilk.

So there you have it!  Another domestic engineering marvel!  I'm not saying I'll never buy a stick of butter again (let's face it, precisely measured butter has it's place in the world) but it's pretty darn tasty.  Further, I love knowing exactly what went into it!  In this modern age of "natural flavors" and mystery additives I can't pronounce, I'm happy to feed my kids butter with precisely one ingredient: whipping cream.

So give it a go... you won't be disappointed.  The flavor is awesome and it spreads like... well... butter!  If nothing else, it's an awesome science experiment!

xo, k

PS.  You can take this butter and salt it if you'd like.   I prefer my butter unsalted so I know how much I'm adding to my recipes/meals.  Enjoy!


The Massacre

You know what I love?  Collards.  You know what I hate?  Cabbage worms (loopers).  Yup.  H-A-T-E.

This one got it the worst... my poor sweet collard greens.  Sniff.

Last night I went out to inspect the damage (I hadn't seen the actual perps... just the damage) and picked about 10 of these suckers off my collards.  I found at least 4 little yellow eggs on the underside of the leaves too!  I really should've known.  I had noticed a few holes in the leaves and then The Captain remarked about how much the white butterflies looooove his garden.  ARGH!

The good news?  It's still early in the growing season and I've put the Handy Husband on the case.  The man constantly complains about the garden, but you know what he does when I'm not here?  He waters, takes the kids out to check on their veggies, talks to a buddy at work about tomato varieties... it's super cute.  I love him and his fake complaining.  :)  So naturally, he acted mildly disinterested and asked what we do about those little buggers.  I informed him we either spray constantly (I've researched a few organic solutions) or install a floating row cover.  This got him talking all about netting and some leftover lath he had laying around.  He's so cute when he gets all handy.  Tee hee!

You know what else he pretends he doesn't like, but secretly does?  This recipe:

Sauteed Andouille and Greens with Grits (Real Simple)

Seriously, it rocks.  It's reason #1 I'm growing collards.  So, cabbage worms, meet your match (and her Handy Husband).  Your banquet is over.

xo, k

Dutch Doors

Hallelujah... we have enough money for a back door!!!

I'd post a pic, but honestly the current door is horrifying.  Maybe I'll do a little "before and after," but you'll have to wait.  Just picture this: pale peachy-pink, shiny fake brass hardware (but covered by some sweet plastic baby-proofing gizmo), off-white/tan mini-blinds that are broken and hanging at an awkward angle and about an inch gap at the bottom because we have no threshold.  Yes, that means our hardwoods abut the concrete pad at the back door.  Oh, and I've scrubbed the darn thing to within an inch of its life, but it still has weird stains everywhere!  It's classy.

Anyway, the door is at the end of the hallway so we really feel the space would benefit from a healthy dose of natural light.  Given that, we've narrowed it down to three options:  a 10 light or french door, a half-light door, and the beloved Dutch door.  Only one of these will give us the added benefit of letting in warm summer breezes while still keeping in dogs and little adventuring toddlers.  So guess what we're ordering this week?!?

Jones Pierce Architects

Country Home

Traditional Home

House to Home

OH!  And one more awesome thing about getting a new back door... we'll finally be able to finish the base and door trim on the first floor.  Wahoo!  Oh the joys of remodeling.

xo, k