Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How we live without a microwave...

Yes, you read that right!  We don't have a microwave.  About a year ago (and after a strange "zap" our microwave quit working.  "Why don't we just not replace it?!" I said to K.  He easily agreed.  So, we have been without a microwave for a year.

"But Jen," say, "How do you heat up leftovers?"

Well... the same way as we cook them - the oven or the stove. (or sometimes the toaster oven).  And you know what?!  Food and leftovers actually taste better.  They even taste the same as when they were cooked in the first place.

Ever had microwaved leftover chicken? Yeah, gross!  How do we cook sweet potatoes? In the oven.  Yes, it takes a bit longer, but they taste SOOOO much better.  I just try to plan meals better so I am making the most efficient use of my oven (like cooking meat and potatoes and veggies in there all together).

We weren't necessarily concerned about the harmful effects of microwaving food.  It was more just a sense of simplification for us.  Why keep another appliance that takes up valuable counter space if we really don't need it?  We (okay, mostly I) have been trying to make an effort to simplify life and eliminate things we don't need, love, or are extremely useful, so not replacing the microwave seemed like a no brainer to me.

I am working on a plan for de-cluttering and simplifying in the new year and I plan to share it soon.... so stay tuned.....and Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Workspace - Office Makeover...

I have always been one to pick up my laptop and sit on the couch and work, so I never really needed an "office" area, but I do have a lot of files, etc. so it seemed like a nice idea to try and consolidate them into one location.

Before, this was just an empty corner near our staircase and a play area.  Now that the girls have outgrown their play kitchen it was a good place for me to "set up shop" so to speak and locate our desk and file storage.

Here's what it looked like before:

And here's what it looks like today:

The file cabinets are from Ikea and they store the files for all three businesses and our household files as well.  The bulletin board is where I hang anything I want to ponder.  Behind the blue door is our "art closet" where we keep all of our art supplies that can't live out in my studio.

This is a desk that was handed down to us from my husband's aunt and uncle.  I made it look a little more fun by adding yellow hexagon pulls from Anthropology and some wrapping paper and plexiglass for the top.  I put a few family photos underneath.  I keep my "ongoing" files here as well as my laptop so I can easily grab them and work anywhere.

The art is a notebook cover that I cut off the notebook when it was filled and put it in a frame. The black birds are repurposed from a photo hanger kit from Target.  The chair pad is vintage.

It's nice to have an organized place to put everything... even if I am still sitting on the couch while I type this!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Homemade Bath Salts...

Every year at holiday time I try to make some of our gifts, especially teacher gifts.  In the past I have made -  homemade soap, bath bombs, lip balm and cinnamon ornaments.  This year I made lavender scented bath salt.  Hopefully the teachers can use the time during break to relax from the stresses of school and recover for the new year.  I thought this bath salt might help!

Here's what you need:

1 cup epsom salt (can be purchased in the first aid section of any drug store or grocery store)
1 cup coarse sea salt
6-8 drops of essential oil of your choice (found at most craft stores)
6-8 drops of food coloring

See mixing instructions below.

First: Mix both salts together in a glass or metal bowl.

Then: add food coloring and mix really well.  Sometimes it takes a bit to get the color incorporated throughout.

Once it is all mixed it should look kind of "speckled".

Next: add essential oil and mix well.

When done it looks and smells beautiful...and it can't get easier than that!

I put ours in some recycled jam jars and made cute paper labels for the tops.

I hope the teachers like it and I might even take a bath and use I bit for myself during this stressful season!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

White paint fail...

My plan with this sitting room was to go from bright coral to light, airy, white.  I was also interested in trying to create a "whole house palette" where I repeat colors from the palate in different rooms to create a more open and cohesive feeling throughout my home.  This is trending in interior decorating as well as using white so that accent colors "pop".

So, I picked a warm bright white called Dover White from Sherwin Williams, and after one coat I immediately knew it wasn't going to work.  It was too stark white for me and it was the same as the ceiling color so the room just looked cold.  As soon as it was dry I painted over it with the next white I thought would look good called Kestrel White from Sherwin Williams.  I have it in another room and love it.  However because of the lighting in this room it looked peach! ugh!  See below:

Okay, so "now what" I thought?!  Back to square one.  I looked on pinterest to find images of rooms I liked and really tried to determine why.  Here are some that spoke to me:







I realized I am drawn to rooms with muted tones mixed with pops of color that feel cozy and curated.  So we are back to picking colors (and actually testing them this time).  Here are some of the contenders:

Top left: Antique Moss (Valspar), Top right : Pier 14 (Valspar), Bottom left: Sparrow (Benjamin Moore),  Bottom right: Blind date (Valspar).

The other thing I realized is that just because all white rooms and white walls are everywhere in magazines and on blogs, it doesn't mean I need to do it.  It just looks out of place in my house.  There really isn't a bit of true white anywhere in my home!  I'm okay with that.  I think other colors can bring a neutral quality/clean slate even if they are not white.  We still need to choose a color but we are closer than we were!

Monday, November 10, 2014

How to clean a porcelain sink...

First of all, let me just start by saying... I HATE my white porcelain sink.  It's a nightmare to *keep* clean. If I could renovate my kitchen today I would absolutely pick something different. White is so crisp and classic, but only when it's clean!

So, anyway....being the neat freak that I am I want my sink to be clean! After lots of trial and error here's how I do it (and actually it's really easy).

This is what it looked like before:
(with scratches from stainless steel pots and all...)


Scratches from pots and pans.

The secret weapon: Bar Keeper's Friend.

Sprinkle a generous amount and wet slightly with warm water.

Scrub gently with wet sponge.

I use a tooth brush around the drain.
 and give it all a good rinse and then..... ta da!

*UPDATE :  If the sink is REALLY dirty, let the paste sit for a few minutes before rinsing.*

It will look like this:

Bright and shiny!!!

 Happy Cleaning!

Thursday, October 30, 2014


I found that in the last few years, as life gets more hectic, the way I want to decorate my home has really evolved.  I want my home to feel more calm and serene.  So, I have been thinking a lot about how to accomplish this.

There are two major solutions that I have come up with: De-clutter and lighten and brighten everything!

I plan to scrutinize everything and decide if we really need it & love it, or if it just adds clutter.  This has been pretty hard for me in the past since I am a "collector" by nature.

If you are working on de-cluttering challenges like me, here are some great tips from Leo Babauta at Zen Habits (one of my favorite blogs to read for inspiration.)

Now go organize something!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Big Plans...

So, yes, I haven't posted in over a year! Life just got away from me and after having some physical problems nothing really got done for so long. Well, that is about to change. I am back and I have big plans. So many house projects waiting to be tackled! And, while my time is still limited because of a certain 3 year old that prefers to entertain me as opposed to participating in home renovation projects, I plan on making some things happen.

 One of the projects I hope do in the very near future is my sitting room. Take a look at how it looks now:

This room needs a pretty major overhaul! It really needs to be "de-country-ified." I painted in coral (Salmon Shade from Valspar) about 5 years ago when I was into color everywhere, but now it needs to be more serene.  Also, most of the furniture is inherited and not really my style to begin with.

I plan to:
 - Paint the walls a neutral white
 - Remove or paint some of the paneling (on the opposite wall)
 - finish the crown moulding (on the opposite wall)
 - make a slip cover for the wing chair
 - new window treatments
 - paint (or somehow refinish) the tall jelly cabinet
 - new artwork
 - new light fixture
 - replace the formal rocking chair with a shaker one (like this one)
 - brighten and simplify everything else and remove clutter!
 - rearrange furniture

 I can't wait to get started!
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