Category Archives: Home + Garden

Kitchen update … before and after

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Way back in October 2011, I commiserated with you about trying to choose paint for our kitchen. Originally, I was leaning towards the blues and greys.

But y’all screamed, NO, don’t do it! You commented, e-mailed and called me warning me not to go so dark. In the comments Kim Fasching (I would link to her, but the link no longer works) suggested, “Pull something pinkish from the granite and cut it by half with white.”

I looked at the counter tops again.

Hmmm. Mauve? Really? I dunno. I’m not really a mauve kinda girl. 1980s color schemes screamed in my mind.

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But then I thought about it some more and hauled myself back to the store for more paint samples. Gee, if that many people thought I should go pinkish then I needed to give it some serious consideration.

I finally narrowed it down to two shades of mauve and then left it up to Jack to choose the final color while I took off for Vietnam. (I’m so helpful that way.) And when I came home it was all painted and done. My sweetheart rocks!

Here’s what it looks like today.

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A little spit and polish

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It’s rainy here today. Has been for the past two days. They say we’ll have the sunshine back tomorrow. Hmm, I feel a little sad about it. Last year we had something like 30 straight days of rain. It seemed like too much then. This year has been the exact opposite with practically no rain (or snow for our nearby mountains) and we could really use it. ‘Tis dry, my friends, too dry! Such a dry Winter does not bode well for the Summer.

I’m not complaining though, a little rain is better than no rain. I’ll take what we can get.

Gloomy weather inspires indoor projects though, doesn’t it? Indoor projects scream two things to me: cleaning closets or crafts.

I’ll take crafts for $1000, Alex!

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The gardening has begun

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Hello, it’s me, Poops. I’m out here in the back garden, a place that I’m normally kept out of because once I dug a big ol’ hole in a vegetable bed. Geez. A little touchy about some stupid dirt, aren’t we?

Anyway, I’m so excited that gardening season has begun because it means that I get to snooze in my favorite sun spots again while mom works on her veggies.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Remember the fun of getting/giving Valentine’s day cards and candy in elementary school? I was crazy about the Muppets and the Peanuts so those were my favorite Valentines. I also loved those little heart candies that say, “You’re Mine” and cupcakes topped with hot pink frosting and sprinkles.

Now I’m a little older and lean towards Clint Eastwood Valentines. It’s twisted, I know. But cupcakes with hot pink frosting are still much appreciated. Jack’s getting a couple of these oh, so romantic scratch-off valentine’s day cards that I made up for our little V-day celebration.

Ever make your own scratch off cards? They’re super easy. Here’s how >>

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Hell hath no fury like trying to choose paint

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There’s a tiny room in the front of our house that has been the home to my mom’s former aesthetician business. She’s in her 70s and doesn’t work anymore, but the business holds a powerful meaning for her. I get that. I used to own a business, too. It’s tough letting go. However, after much emotional struggle she decided to finally sell her business once and for all.

This means that in two weeks that room will be empty and it will return to the warm and embracing fold of the house. This also means that we can repaint it. (Yay!) And replace the carpet, which is this really OLD crazy dingy commercial grade blue stuff. And since we’re going to repaint that room we can also take advantage of the opportunity and go ahead and repaint our office and kitchen, two projects we have been talking about for ages.

Jack’s standing in our office (checking out paint swatches painted all over the walls (you can see more swatches on the wall over the computer monitor behind him) and there’s our kitchen through the doorway.

It’s an interesting process trying to choose color with a fella that’s color blind.

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Growing Shiitake mushrooms

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Jack brought home a Shiitake mushroom log last week. Apparently I get one from him every season. I had no idea!

Last season I got an oyster mushroom log (shown on the left) that I wrote about here >>>. Check out the difference with the Shiitake on the right. Interesting, eh?

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I’m hoping they’ll do a Candy Cap mushroom log someday. I would love to grow them and make ice cream. Oh, heavenly. Sigh. Reminds me of Mendocino.

Anyway, here’s a little recap on how these suckers work …

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It’s pumpkin time …

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Back in early September Jack started persistently asking when I was going to start putting out our pumpkin stuff. To my surprise he was thinking about our Fall decorations weeks before I was. What a laugh! Oh, how times have changed, my friends. My holiday-indifferent sweetie has succumbed to the fun, fun, fun of the holiday season! I never thought it possible.

When we first met he didn’t care even one iota about the Fall season and its bevy of decorations and celebrations. In his mind it’s a waste of time and money. Plus, the number of tchotchkes in our house seem to multiply exponentially, which normally drives him bananas. I, on the other hand, absolutely love the Fall season and can’t wait to tchotchke-up our house as we move through Halloween, Thanksgiving and then Christmas.

Last week when I saw all the pumpkins hit our local farm stand I knew it was time to start decorating for Fall. Yay! Even Jack said, “Yay! Finally!”

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End of summer garden update

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Despite the fact that it will be 90F this week we are definitely at the end of Summer here in Northern California. We’ve already had rain and you can feel the cool weather starting to settle in.

But this is still California and I really appreciate our sunny climate especially as we head into Fall, my favorite season of the year. This beautiful climate affords us more evenings out back enjoying our patio and BBQ. And more time in our garden.

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Upcycling: Outdoor Scotch oil lantern

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I’ve got less than a week until school starts and have been busy finishing up the last of my outdoor garden projects. Jeez, is it me or did Summer slip by way too fast?

Anyway, the weather in the Bay Area has been remarkably pleasant this summer. It’s so lovely in the early evenings that I’ve taken to eating dinner in the backyard and relaxing with a good book until it’s too dark for me to read anymore. Jack hasn’t had a chance to hook up the electricity in the garden yet, therefore we don’t have much light out there right now. Annoyed at having to cut my outdoor evenings short due to darkness I started scouring the house for lighting options.

As it happens I recently cleaned up my pantry and had pulled out a bunch of these empty Scotch bottles that I tend to save and use for flower vases. I took another look at these Scotch bottles and realized that they would make terrific oil lanterns. They’re heavy and sturdy and can easily withstand a windy night. Excellent. I felt an urge to upcycle!

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These oil lanterns were super easy to whip up. Here’s what you need:
1. bottle (FREE. Use what you have.)
2. lantern wick (FREE. This package has 2 and coincidentally we already had it in the shed. Why? I have no clue, but I was using it! If you’re buying, it’s only a couple bucks.)
3. washer to stick on top of the bottle to hold the wick in place (FREE. I also found this in the shed, but the center hole was a little too small, so I made it bigger with 1/2-inch drill bit. Easy! If you’re buying, they’re ~$.50 each.)
4. Citronella lantern oil ($3.50)

Pour lantern oil into your clean bottle (I used 1/4 bottle of oil for each lantern.) Thread wick through washer and then insert into the bottle so that the wick rests easily on the bottom. Trim wick about 1/2-inch above the washer.

Voila! Two custom oil lanterns for the bank-breaking price of $3.50.

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I love that the lantern oil actually looks like Scotch. And because we’re a Scotch-loving family I think these lanterns are especially perfect for our home—a subtle nod to who we are.

Upcycling at its best.

P.S. They work great!

From the garden: No-dough, no-bake summertime tarts

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The most prolific tomato plant we have is our cherry tomato bush that sits outside our back door. And these little babies are so sweet and juicy; they’re perfect for a sweet-savory summer tomato tart.

I love tarts: fruit tarts, veggie tarts, layered lasagna tarts … mmmm. Plus, they’re the epitome of summer.

What I don’t like is the flour and butter of the traditional tart crust. If you feel the same then try out this No-dough, no-bake tart shell that is made from ground nuts and dates. It’s delicious! And bonus, it’s super fast and easy to throw together. Here we go >>

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