Home Project Dreaming

Yellow sliding door

In our imaginary dream home, David would have a 2-car garage, I would have my own office and the kids would have a separate playroom. Our reality, however, is 3 small bedrooms and one small office in about 1500 square feet, and no garage. I’m not complaining. We are lucky to live here. But it doesn’t hurt to dream, right?

With the back addition we did a few years ago, our house lives very well for its size. It morphed from tiny to a smallish medium, with a good flow and partially open floor plan that makes it feel bigger than it actually is. We are mostly comfortable here. It’s easy to access shops, schools, rec centers, libraries and restaurants and I love our neighborhood. But every once in a while I take a peek at the listings on rmls.com to see if something better might be in our price range. Its mostly just curiosity, because I cannot imagine moving. In the 10 years we’ve lived here, I never found a house in our price range that I would choose to move into. It is why the addition made more sense, because we could do it better than what we could find.

Though I can’t transform our simple ranch-style into my glassed-wall dream home, there are a couple of projects I’d hopefully like to accomplish within the next year or so. I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and found a couple pics on Pinterest showing how others have handled these same ideas.

The first is to install a sliding barn door on the wall from the great room that would close off the doorway to the bedroom hallway. It would provide an attractive, architectural-style visual on an otherwise bare wall, and when closed, would provide a sound barrier to the rest of the house and possibly keep the kitchen smells from permeating into the bedrooms. We’d almost always leave it open, but it would be nice to have an option of a door there, when needed.

wooden sliding barn door with arrow styling

The wooden door above is my favorite shape (with the arrow), but I would prefer painting it. David wants to keep it wood, but we have no other matching wood surface or wood trim to make it look cohesive as it does concealing the wooden paneled mud room in the photo. David suggested leaving ours wood for a while, which we’ll likely do, but I feel like I’ll constantly be itching to paint it something bold.

white painted sliding barn door

sliding barn door, silver hardware

Red painted sliding barn door

The samples above show a black and a silver versions of the sliding hardware. Both would work in our home, but my gut says black. See more sliding barn door examples here.

wall to wall besta ikea cabinets

besta ikea shelves living room

wall to wall besta ikea cabinets

Another project that would make a big difference is to install wall-to-wall Besta cabinets underneath the back windows of the great room. One thing we always need is more storage space (I’d love to do something similar in the hallway nook as well, but that would be later on down the road). Ideally, they would look “built-in” so the plain walls of the room would have more structure and interest.

There are actually many more projects on our to-do (eventually) list – kitchen countertops, improved landscaping, new driveway – but those are larger ticket items that will have to wait.

How about you? Do you have any big or small home projects you hope to accomplish during the coming year or beyond?


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Let’s Roll! Morning Meal Idea for Little Hands On-the-Go

We have some busy mornings during the week in our household. Whether it’s preschool, scheduled activities, play dates, or just running errands, it is nice to have a go-to breakfast to feed the kids when we’re running low on time.

At ages one-and-a-half and four, my children are at the height of picky eating. When we are running behind, the best I can content them with is cereal or a breakfast bar. But when I have a few extra minutes to spare (or if I’ve planned ahead, which isn’t unheard of), then I’ll make them up a hand roll. They’re fresh, quick to make, and easy for little hands to hold (which means less mess in the car)!

Here’s my method:

  1. First, take a slice of bread with the crust cut off. Regular wheat or white works best, as heavily seeded breads don’t flatten very well.
  2. Flatten the bread with the heel of your hand. I usually put a second cutting board on top before pressing down which helps make the slices nice and flat. This probably sounds like an odd thing to do, but a big difference between a hand roll and a sandwich is that everything is contained inside the hand roll. If you give a toddler a traditional sandwich, then you’re likely to have bits of filling dripping out all over.
  3. Choose a spread or filling from whatever you happen to have on hand. It could be as simple as butter or strawberry jam, but most often I use two ingredients, like the one shown here which is ham and cream cheese on wheat. For step-by-step photos click here.

Optional: Fold a piece of paper towel and wrap it around the base of the roll. Seal the paper towel edge down with a piece of tape. Not only does this help keep the roll together, but it keeps little hands cleaner as well.

Here’s a list of other filling ideas:

cheese and butter
peanut butter and jelly
cream cheese and raisins
turkey and avocado
canned pumpkin and cranberries
hazelnut spread and bananas
ham and mayo
hummus

Now, I know what you may be asking: why not use a tortilla or pita instead of a flattened piece of bread? Well, you certainly could. Our toddler finds bread a lot easier to bite and chew, and the preschooler prefers the taste and texture of bread over tortillas. This way I just have to make one variety and they are both happy. Sometimes I even make one for myself while I’m at it.

Tip: If you’re using a less flexible filling like cheese or banana, then it helps to cut it into pencil-sized chunks. Place the thin chunk on one side and then roll it, which will put the cheese in the center. Otherwise the cheese will make the hand-roll too bulky and not close properly.

To even better balance the nutrition of a hand-roll breakfast, I like to include a side of fresh, travel-friendly fruit, like grapes, apple, orange segments, or banana, plus a sippy cup with milk or half water/half juice.

And there you have it – a healthy meal to fuel those little bodies that you love, even when you’re feeling rushed!

This post is part of BlogHer’s Rush Hour Tips editorial series, made possible by Got Milk?


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Who me? Organized?

I’ve been on an organizational kick lately. I had just begun with some preliminary things (like my desk) when I came across a Go Paperless post at Styleberry Blog. The timing was perfect as motivation to keep going.

So far the biggest thing I’ve tackled is our office closet. The best way I could describe it was train wreck. It was a horrible, frustrating, dark hole made up of piles of stuff. One culprit was paper, especially design samples we kept as “inspiration” from our student and early designer days. Another culprit was boxes, including packaging we had designed and were keeping as portfolio pieces… all that stuff we paired down, tossed, or put up in the attic space. Then there were random items to go to Goodwill – a beautiful red leather Franklin Covey binder I don’t use but had trouble parting with for years, holiday ceramic jars that I’ve kept meaning to re-gift with holiday goodies, my ten-year old Toshiba laptop… you get the picture.

Bye-bye stuff, hello space!

Here are two excellent pieces of advice I’ve read recently:

  1. Put things where they belong. If something isn’t used where it is, then it needs to be stored somewhere else – kitchen stuff in the kitchen, office stuff in the office, etc. This may be obvious, but it was handy in helping me make decisions.
  2. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Ah. Right. I was reminded of this William Morris quote thanks to Pinterest.

One thing I’ve moved from the office is fabric. It is now in the bedroom where the sewing machine is (soon to be Leo’s room, but oh well). On a photo tour of Melissa’s studio, I noticed she keeps her fabric in an Ikea Antonius frame with wire baskets. A lightbulb went off in my head – I have one of these! I emptied the top two shelves (full of clothes I hardly wear, which I moved to my closet) and replaced them with my fabric piles. Now, instead of digging down into a box, I can see at a glance all of the fabric I have on hand. Brilliant! (And yes, I agree, that is an awful lot of fabric for a person who hardly sews. Must do something about that.)

Isn’t that one of the greatest things about blogs? The way they can inspire us? Maybe you’re ready to tackle a project of your own now. Best of luck!

 

 


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A bit of happiness

Covering a wall with butterflies

Do you ever search the web to find a little bit of happiness? To me, the web is kind of like a magazine, full of ideas and inspiration and eye-candy (depending on where you look). One blog that is always good for the aforementioned qualities is Color Me Katie. She’s a photographer living in Brooklyn and shares lots of happy and colorful things, from crafts, to street art, to improv. I envy her rare gift that makes the ordinary extraordinary.  Take a look at these photos and see if her feel-good work doesn’t make your day a little bit more sunny. :-)

Putting Rubber Duckies in street puddles

Drawing a kitty face on a toe

Birds flying out of a magazine

Marshmallows with faces


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Musings :: Kid’s Bathroom


This kid’s bath kicks butt!

The hall bathroom in our new addition will also be the kid’s bathroom. Originally, I thought we’d save money by choosing plain white wall tile, whatever bargain basement floor tile we could find, and just try to spruce it up with paint. After all, it is the room most likely to be trashed by little hands (and later teenagers) right? Well, maybe not, according to David. He made a good point that it will also be the bathroom most used by the household, including guests, so why not make it the nice bathroom and our master the cheap bathroom?

So then I went back to the drawing board in my mind, and I think I’ve had some better ideas after thinking it through.

First of all, the one thing we’ve been able to agree on is the white IKEA Godmorgon/Odensvik sink (similar to below). For the kid’s bath, we’ll get the less-expensive single sink version (I thought the double version at first, but David thinks it is unlikely that the kids will be using the bathroom at the same time once they get older since they will be boy & girl). Besides being both budget-friendly and modern looking, the other thing I like is that the kids will be able to push their step stools underneath the sink when not in use.

By keeping the tile and fixtures white, a lot of fun can be had with paint color. Maybe a bright blue or green, or perhaps the addition of a wall decal to liven things up. In this way, it would be nice enough for adults, but also fun for the kids.

Now lets just imagine… for example, right now Chloe loves owls. Although spendy, I found that Target currently carries really cute Owl bathroom accessories. Aren’t they adorable?


Awesome Owls Bath Coordinates Collections

Awesome Owls 3pc Towel Set

Hoot Bath Coordinates Collections – Tan

And after a quick search for wall decals I found this Owl on Tree wall decal on Etsy which can be custom colored and then tie every thing together. Can you imagine what a cool bathroom it could be? So many possibilities. The hard part is limiting to items that will fit our budget, but it sure is fun to imagine! :-)


Owl on Tree – 090 – Vinyl Sticker Wall Decal on Etsy


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Musings :: Master Bathroom

I’ve been looking at a lot of bathroom photos lately, now that ours will soon be torn out. Some of these photos just blow me away with their beauty and style. Although the luxe options shown here are way out of our price range, the challenge is figuring out why they look so good, and if it is possible to glean some of their magic with more widely-available and affordable options. For example, I’ve noticed I tend to like the contrast of dark brown and white. I also like glass tile, especially in aqua and other shades of blues and greys. I think bathrooms are one of those rooms that can stand a little drama, especially now that we’ll have more than one.

And here are some important lessons I learned when we remodeled our existing bathroom 5 years ago:

1) Although I like the look, using 1×1 floor tiles and 2×2 wall tile leaves A LOT of grout to clean. Not making that mistake again.

2) In order to save money, we didn’t do any accents. The walls are white and the floor is gray. We call it “classic,” but it really just looks kinda plain.

3) Our current bath faucet doesn’t let us adjust for pressure, just on and off. We ended up buying a special bath toy so Chloe could play with a small steady drip of water in the bathtub and not a loud deluge.

4) We left the old ugly tub because it would have cost a fortune to replace (we’d have to rip out the exterior wall just to get it out). Since then I have always lamented not replacing that yucky thing. The effect of the remodel was ruined by how worn that tub was. It will be a relief when it is finally gone!


For fun, I priced the Heath Ceramic Oval tiles (shown above) at Ann Sacks – $75 per sq foot, meaning that the dark blue tile must have cost over $4000 alone, not including installation. OMG!


This vertical blue accent is striking. We’re going to do something like it in our shower, aligned with the showerhead and faucet. Maybe blue glass?

Feldman Architecture modern bathroom
We have gray glass tiles similar to this as our backsplash in the kitchen. Unfortunately they are on the wall that will be ripped away to open the kitchen into the new dining area. Oh well.


Sorry, I don’t have links to every photo – I didn’t collect them originally with the intention of sharing, but I did go back and find links for some.



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Grateful on Christmas Eve

There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity. -Washington Irving

It is Christmas eve, and I am writing in bed, snuggled warmly next to my sleeping husband, and not far from my sleeping baby. The wind is howling and the weather outside is fiercely cold. We’ve spent the day traveling and visiting with my husband’s family, and now we are all settled comfortably, the house quiet. I have just finished reading a well-written and inspiring 10-part article about Stephanie Nielson, a plane crash survivor who was almost fatally burned. Many mothers and bloggers follow her popular blog nieniedialogues.blogspot.com. After reading her heroic struggle to patch her life, her body and her family back together, I am doubly grateful for all that I have been blessed with. In the spirit of Christmas, it is a priceless reminder of the importance and strength of love, friendship and family.

Quote above from the article. Via designmom.


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Japanese Variety

I seem to be stuck in a procrastination phase. I was hoping to be more productive this weekend, but I don’t think I was. Actually, I can’t even remember how I spent it all. Some of it was watching a few netflixed Alias episodes (great eye candy, although the mini anxiety attacks from all the suspense and drama are rough), surfed the net, a little gardening, attended a baby shower and put together some swap packages. I did get a little work done, too, so that’s good.

……….

Not far from my house is a Japanese supermarket called Uwajimaya. It’s a great place for exotic foods and asian gifts like ceramics, specialty papers, and traditional art supplies. We had an asian theme to our wedding (red tablecloths, paper lanterns, chopsticks, etc) and most of our food was ordered from here. I picked up the packages of candy shown above this weekend for some swaps (as well as some Haribo candy for myself). The whole side of an aisle is devoted to sweets, and of course I want to try them all.

Next door to the supermarket there is a Tokyo-based bookstore called Kinokuniya. Besides their unique office supplies and selection of kawaii, I love to browse the imported craft books. Their fine aesthetic and clean photographic style really appeals to me. Sometimes they’re written in English, too. My budget has pretty much limited me to only looking, but someday I’d love to bring a few home with me. For now I just try and soak up the inspiration while I’m there.


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Crazy for Craft Books

I have recently gone crazy for craft books from our local library. So many good ideas, and inspiring photos, and (thankfully!) step-by-step instructions! Sadly, my library doesn’t have many of the titles I would love to check out (Sew Easy Bags, Amy Butler’s In Stitches, Sublime Stitching, Make Your Own Contemporary Quilts, The Apron Book, Sock and Glove, etc), so I may spend some time filling out request forms, or possibly buying them myself.

I know, I know, please spare me the lecture on how other people can’t borrow these books if I have so many at home. I get it enough from my husband. Recently, right before our weekly visit, he even asked if I was ready to return the library. What can I say? Aren’t libraries for lending (thank goodness!)? And where else can I indulge both my love of books and love of crafts without spending a penny (except in fines…oops)!

Here are the one’s I’ve borrowed most recently (not mentioning the ones queued up on my inter-library request list!):

sew subversive
Sew Subversive
This one has been most informative, especially the intro chapters
You + Your Machine and Gearing Up for Your First Sewing Project.

complete idiot's guide to sewing
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sewing

stitch 'n bitch
Stitch ‘N Bitch – The Knitter’s Handbook
This book was recommended by Rachel, a very nice “crafty” person
I met at Border’s when I bought Lotta Jansdotter Simple Sewing.

sew easy
Sew Easy

99 ways t-shirt book
99 ways to cut, sew, trim, & tie your T-shirt

I wanna make my own clothes
I wanna make by own clothes

sew teen
Sew Teen
I am far from being a teen, but I loved the cute tops and easy
instructions in this book. I want to make the “baby doll tunic”
the girl on the left is wearing! Cute!

All images from amazon.com.


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Famously Creative with HP

harajuku paper doll card

A Harajuku Girl Paper Doll Card from Gwen’s HP site

Check out these two fun and elegant interactive mini-sites (can they be called that?) from HP, one inspired by Paula Scher, principal at Pentagram and the other inspired by recording artist Gwen Stefani. Each presentation includes a short video and customized tools that are great for blowing a little time while “playing” creatively.

My favorite was making a Harajuku Girl paper doll on Gwen’s site. I also found it interesting to watch Paula’s video on brand identity, but think it’s a little weird that she’s providing a template for businesses to auto-generate their own identity system. That just doesn’t seem right, especially after saying a good identity “expresses the specific spirit and tonality and ethics of an organization or individual.” Providing these templates seems to defeat this purpose by only providing a “friendly” or “modern” choice. To be fair, there is eventually a link to the AIGA.

Here’s the overview from HP:

gwen stefani

Gwen Stefani For You
Step inside Gwen Stefani’s world and customize her designs and illustrations to make Gwen Stefani’s style your own. Submit photos to the Sweet Escape tour book, create your Harajuku Girl paper doll entourage, print invitations, greeting cards and check out Gwen Stefani’s baby collection. All brought to you by HP.

paula sher

Paula Scher For Your Business
HP and Pentagram designer Paula Scher present advice on brand identity design, video tutorials for small businesses and brand identity templates for small businesses. View Paula Scher’s best-known work, browse through her exclusive design templates and listen to insights on how small businesses build great brand identity.


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Words of Courage

anais nin quote

What a true observation. I’m proud to say that I’ve made some courageous choices in my life, although nowhere near as consistently as I’d like. Sometimes it’s hard to be courageous, to make difficult decisions, to choose between what is easy and what is unknown. Living courageously takes guts, but often lead to adventures (occasionally unwanted, but often fabulous) that could have never been forseen. And isn’t that the beauty of it?


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Inspiration: Lotta Jansdotter Simple Sewing

lotta jansdotter simple sewing

I’ve finally bought a copy of Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing. I have loved her designs for ages, and own two of her adorable tissue box covers (read that post here) and a set of sticky notes my husband gave me last christmas. Her designs and patterns, to me, are the epitome of fresh, organic and modern. If I had inexhaustible funds I’m sure I would surround myself with many more of her products.

Anyway, I really want to learn to sew. I’ve thought about it for ages, but frankly, I’m scared. I see it as being a very difficult and unforgiving medium, though so many people do it very well. I’ve had a hard time just hemming up my pants, despite a very instructive lesson from my mother-in-law. And it’s not like I’ve never had a successful sewing experience. It’s just that I’ve also had some very frustrating experiences, too.

I’m hoping this book will help inspire me to change all that. It includes patterns and instructions for some basic, yet cool items that I would love to make for myself and possibly even give as gifts.

Tip: If you use the link above to her store, the book will come signed by Lotta. I didn’t know this until after I had already purchased my book from Border’s (with an email newsletter discount). Plus, while we were there we met and chatted with a very nice couple in the cafe about sewing and crafts. Rachel and Owen, if you’re reading this, it was very nice to meet you. :-)

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