Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not a Minute too Late

Who knew finding an 16x 20 frame with an 11x14 mat would be so difficult (ok, I didn't really look very many places but my go-to's let me down). With less than a day to spare I finally got my calendar on my wall (I know, anti-climactic right?). It was totally worth the wait though.

Isn't it just pretty enough to eat frame? And each month I get a new work of art. 

Norman wasn't too impressed though.

This calendar maker comes out with a different set of pictures each year and I have always loved them. They can be a little pricey, but if you are willing to gamble I've found that most calendars tend to go on sale a few weeks after the new year. I got mine half off.  They have some super cute posters too (their small prints are on sale for 2.50 right now!)

Linnea Design

I was inspired by this pin (go figure right?) but wasn't sure I wanted another gallery wall. 


I toyed with putting it in the guest bed but then I couldn't enjoy the art. Next month's is super cute and for $14.50 I love that I now have a rotating art collection. Now I just have to refurbish that desk... 

Anyone else have a cheap source of art? I really want more original pieces in my house but with the price tags they carry it will have to be prints for now. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Good Eats Wrap Up- January

Writing a weekly post on our Good Eats Challenge was getting overwhelming. So many pictures and steps, I was getting stressed about getting it up each week. Then I thought, wait, I'm doing this because I think it is fun, not because I have to **hand to forehead**. So while we are still doing a weekly Good Eats recipe, I'm only going to post once a month about it. It is immensely fun to try new things each week and to spend time in the kitchen together so I want to share how it went with you all and hopefully pass some food inspiration on to you. Here's the run down of what we made since my last post.

  • Pancakes: These were amazing! The best part is that the recipe is actually a recipe for "instant pancake mix" so you make the mix ahead of time and then add the eggs and milk when you want to make them for breakfast. They were fluffy and light. The key is definitely not over mixing. I hate lumps but I did what he said and they all magically disappeared when we cooked.  This one is a pantry staple for us now.
  • Beurre Blanc: If you've ever been to a fancy French restaurant you've probably had this. Basically it means white butter and that is pretty much what it is. A sauce made of butter and white wine. Rich and delicate but oh so satisfying. We made it with Alton's Court Bouillon which is a classic (again) French poached fish. I thought it was great but Daniel thought it was a bit lacking in flavor. 
  • Pizza: This one is fun. Basically it is all about the dough recipe. It is easy to make if you have a stand mixer and I love that it is something you can make ahead. The key to knowing when you've kneaded enough is using the window pane method. I learned it in bread making class. Basically you take a piece of dough and stretch it between your fingers as thin as you can get it. If you can see through it and it doesn't break you are golden.

He prefers the overnight rise method which is perfect if you are like me and don't like waiting for your dough to rise. Just make the dough the night before and pop it in the refrigerator to rise. It is ready when you want it for dinner the next day. We made a classic margarita pizza and jalapeno cheese bread.
  • Baked Beans: This was a new experience for me and let me say, wow. Though any recipe that is equal parts bacon to main ingredient is a winner in my book (the proportion was one pound bacon to one pound beans). These were fantastic. Slightly spicy, slightly sweet and lasted for days. I will definitely be making these again (but maybe with a bit less bacon for my health).
  • Pan Fried Tofu: Your classic tofu recipe. It was good, but I prefer more Asian flavors with my tofu. There was another recipe for a chocolate tofu pie that looked quite good though. I may have to try it sometime. 
  • Braised Cabbage: This was kind of ho-hum for me. I wanted it to be more like sauerkraut but it ended up on the sweet end. We paired it with a delicious locally made sausage though and that totally made the dish.  We are big fans of "sausage in a bun" or upscale hot dogs if you will. Anyone who has read Terry Pratchett will understand. 
So there it is, the last few Good Eat's dishes we've made this month. I'm already looking forward to making next month's recipes! Hope you find some inspiration to try something new (or am I the only one who has never eaten things like Baked Beans?)

Friday, January 27, 2012

5 Hours Later

Once we had determined that the beam in our kitchen wasn't load bearing we got to work. That nasty beam in our kitchen went from this

To this (obviously the previous picture was taken quite a long time ago but it was the clearest picture of the beam I had).

No more shadow casting, room splitting beam. Let me tell you, it was not an easy task (as the title of this post probably hints to). We tried to do it as carefully and deliberately as possible (and we really had know idea how to get it down in one piece). We started by putting up some supports on the peninsula to hold the beam in place as we cut it in to manageable pieces.

Then we just took it down piece

by piece

Daniel did some calculations and figured the beam was probably around 160 lbs for the whole length of it (which would have been way too much for us to handle as a whole) so cutting it in to manageable pieces made the most sense.

For each section we drilled a hole through the beam at the top and used a reciprocating saw to cut the rest of the beam. Each section we cut was held up by our support walls so we didn't have to worry about anything falling or moving. Then we just jiggled the beam loose and pulled it down. Let's look at that after again.

And from the other side

It makes the kitchen feel so much more open.

I can't wait until we get the rest done but we are at a bit of an impasse. We leave for vacation in 3 weeks and have people coming to watch the pets. Obviously we need to leave them a working kitchen which means we can't start anything we don't know we can finish in 9 days (that is how many days I have off from work before we leave). Daniel is going to run electrical this weekend so we will see what we can finish after that. The biggest thing in our way is moving the stove. One of the posts is connected to the peninsula so to remove that we need to remove the peninsula. But, if we remove the peninsula we need to be ready to move the stove which means re-routing the gas line. That involves turning off all of the gas to the house (which includes heat and hot water) re-routing the lines from under the house and then having the city come and turn the gas back on. If we weren't leaving I'd just decommission the stove and go without until the plumbing and drywall is done but I don't want to leave my house sitters without a stove. I know, long answer to why this project may not be going anywhere quickly. The goal before we leave is to at least have the bedroom back together so that we can make the house look semi decent and leave the kitchen a bit undone for now. That way everything will still work. Here's to hoping anyway!
Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

One of My Other Jobs

I've been working a bit more at the chocolate shop to help them out through the holiday transition. One of my favorite tasks is designing to window display. We don't change it very often because you have to take down a bunch of shelves to do it but we try to at least with the seasons. Obviously,  this time it has been decorated for Valentines Day.  Sorry about the glare, I did the window this morning and the angle of the sun was working against me.

Don't these truffles look fantastic? Our head chocolatier is amazing. All of them are hand painted and filled with delicious flavored ganaches.

I was also super excited to come home to this. Our replacement dremel bits so that I can get more progress done on the kitchen! Yay!

Tonight we are going to dinner and a show. I got us tickets to an opera earlier in the year and now we finally get to see it. I'm trying to get Daniel more in to theater so hopefully he will enjoy this one. It is Atilla. I don't know much about it but it will be fun to dress up and check it out.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I don't know if you are familiar with 20X200 but if you aren't you should be. Their basic model is this:  (limited editions × low prices) + the internet = art for everyone. So for 20 bucks you can buy an original piece of art by a fairly unknown artist that is only 1 of 200 printed. The artist featured today caught my eye so I thought I'd share him with you.  Aaron Straup Cope has created these limited edition map prints using  prettymaps, an experimental map from Stamen Design. 


You can actually use the software yourself and see your own city through Prettymaps itself. It is fun to play with but unfortunately you can't save the image you create (which is a bit of a bummer) but it will definitely keep you busy for a while. 

Work is getting in the way of our kitchen but hopefully I'll have some real progress to show you soon. For now I just keep staring at my tile and trying to imagine the finished product. 

P.S. 20X200 didn't pay me for this, I just like the art. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Down With Cabinets!

The snow kept us from getting much done this weekend but we did accomplish one or two minor things. As of this moment I am cabinet free over the kitchen sink. So what used to look like this

Now looks like this

Which may not get you exited but it sure gets me going. Even Daniel admitted that it "looked brighter" in the kitchen without them. We also made a shopping trip to Ikea this weekend and picked up shelving. I was going to put it up but now I want to paint first before I open that can of worms.

We cleared another milestone this weekend. Paint! and tile! I knew I didn't want colored tile in the kitchen since I didn't want to be hampered by my color choices for the rest of my life and while I love subway tile it was a little too plain. This is the combo we came up with.

We chose a white marble tile for our back splash and plan to stain the butcher block counters we are going to be putting in a dark brown. We are still waffling on whether the desert green is to dark but I think with white cabinets it will be perfect.

Tonight we are going to sit down and make a timeline for getting the project done. There are so many steps that it is easy to forget about a few and we both want to be thorough in making sure that each step is done to the best of our abilities while still being able to use the kitchen as much as possible. Am I crazy to think that might work? Or should we just take everything out and start with a clean slate? I go back and forth on it all the time. Better to live in chaos or go slow? I'm pretty sure ripping everything out would be a kick in the pants towards progress but I'm not sure I'm ready to spend the next few weeks eating microwaveable dinners.

Hope you all had a great weekend! Anyone do anything fun? We went to an exhibit on mid century modern furniture made by Josef Frank which was interesting. Not my style but very neat.

Friday, January 20, 2012

House of Cards

Well, house cards anyway. I was trolling my blog roll the other day and came across this post from The Design Pages about organized shopping. It's true, with everyone organizing every other aspect of their houses it is a good idea to organize how you buy for them. I certainly am in the same boat as Carol having frequently purchased furniture for the house only to get it home and realize it doesn't fit where I thought it would. Most often thrift store finds, which are sadly non returnable. I was really struck by one idea she had in particular. A pocket sized floor plan from Apartment Therapy.

Apartment Therapy 

And of course I thought "I can totally make that!" Little did I realize it would take all afternoon just to do the measurements. When I was finally done I got something that looked like this.

I did the same thing for each room noting measurements where I needed the short walls sizes for new furniture or paintings. I created them in publisher on 3X5 sized paper and printed them on card stock before laminating them.

This is the final result

I also clipped in paint swatches and fabric that I am using in some of the rooms to help with future color choices. I only laminated the front side so I can add measurements and info on the back. Now I only have to remember to bring it with me. It should come in handy with the kitchen remodel we are working on (if the snow ever goes away so that I can get more supplies!)

Are you always this organized? Or are you like me and leave your lists at home? Maybe you just have a good eye for proportion? Tell me your secrets.

Linking up to

Frugal Friday

Weekend Bloggy Reading


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The In-Between

Probably the most hated phase in all of DIY. That point where it looks worse than it did before and you start wondering why you chose now to start the project. Luckily I haven't reached the hair pulling, "why oh why did I do this" phase of the project but snow and work have definitely slowed us down. Added to that, we have travel plans at the end of February that are beginning to look a lot closer than they were when we started this project. I've got a four day weekend this weekend so I plan to get lots done and hopefully have real progress to show you. For now this is what I've got.

A master bed full of door trim I'm saving in case we need it, kitchen cabinets, and other miscellaneous junk. On the bright side though we have finally broken ground on my new closet!

Remember the closet that was supposed to be my birthday present? Back in August? Better late than never right? Obviously it has a bit more work to be done but we are getting there.

The to do list for the weekend:
1. Finish demoing and frame out closet
2. Come to a final determination on beam and remove (or deal with)
3. Install electrical
4. Drywall (or at least get the materials to do so)
5. Figure out how to match our current cabinets

That last one is causing the most difficulty. I know they were put in recently but I can't figure out where they came from. I only need one lower cabinet to add to the new configuration and it would be nice if it matched. Any ideas on how to tell where they came from?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Day!

 Here's to hoping it lasts just a little bit so that we can have some fun.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Another Reveal

I realized in the mess of removing walls and cleaning up 110 year old plaster I forgot to tell you what was under the ugly carpet in the Master Bed. I'll give you a hint, it looks bad but is really quite a good surprise.

Here's the corner reveal



Yeah, that's some pretty hideous laminate. Never fear though! In taking down the wall we discovered that the laminate hides a beautifully protected hardwood floor. Yay! We did some quick internet searching and found that a hair dryer and a putty knife are all you need to remove it! We've left it for now since it is basically a big protective sheet covering the floor but I can't wait to get it removed and see the beauty underneath. It almost makes up for finding that silly beam behind the bulk head.

Anyone else get some good news lately? I love good news, especially when it comes to the house!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Hope you all had fabulous constructive weekends. We had a bit of fun being even more destructive than usual and nor can officially say our kitchen/bedroom remodel is well underway (and it snowed!). We have gone from this

To this

To this

To this

and finally, to this

 I feel like we made some great progress even if we ran in to a few minor snags. Mainly finding out that that "decorative" bulk head actually contained a huge giant beam.

Major bummer. I might have even cursed. We've been doing our research, taking to the experts (and fathers) and are 95% sure it is just decorative. We've come to that conclusion through much going in to the attic, staring at walls, and long conversations that culminate in Google searches of load baring beams. I do not, I repeat, DO NOT suggest anyone else does what we are doing. Make sure you have someone you trust help you make these decisions. You most certainly do not want to have your roof come tumbling down. We still haven't decided how sure we are that we can safely remove it ourselves, so if we (and by we I mean me) are still skeptical I have a structural engineer who was recommended to me. I would highly recommend calling one in if you have a similar problem. It all comes down to what you are comfortable with. 

Like I said this reno is going to be a slow process. While we wait for more funds to come available (we are trying to stick to our resolutions folks) there is plenty of clean up and take down that still needs to happen. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 13, 2012

There Today

Hopefully gone tomorrow. After waking up at the crack of dawn to meet the contractor (and for those of you who don't live in the upper states that's 7 a.m.) we went from this

To this (which after being inspected thoroughly by both Kitty and Daniel was deemed to be sound)

Obviously we still need to take out the existing wall to finish the construction but it feels like we are on our way. Hopefully this weekend we will have finished all of the initial demo and construction which will leave next weekend free for electrical and drywall. I realized today that we need to know exactly where the oven and hood is going to go before we close the wall so that we can run electrical to it which means the bulk head in the kitchen needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

For tonight we are using the space to house a pair of rarely seen members of the Keller house, our Guinea Pigs Sadie and Audrey. Honey sure thinks they are interesting though.
Normally the weather is moderate enough for them to live out doors but the forecast predicts snow so I figured I'd rather move them into be safe. No one wants Guinea Pig Popsicles! I've had them for a few years now so they are definitely part of the family too.

I'll keep you all posted on our wall progress as more gets done. I'm super excited about it still (which is a good sign) so hopefully it will keep moving along at a good pace.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bringing in Spring

We are still moving along in our wall demo but I thought I'd take a break and show you another project I'm working on. Well, I'm not really working on it, nature is.

This fall I bought a TON of bulbs from Brecks and planted them all over the back yard (I skipped the front since I didn't know what would be happening with it this year). I tried to get a mix of bulbs that would start early in the spring and keep going through the summer so I have everything from Crocuses to Irises planted back there. I also went a bit over board on Daffodils (Go Dils, go dils). At one point I just ran out of places to plant without being totally random so I had a few left over in a bag while I thought about what to do. Those few days turned in to months and I pretty much gave them up for dead. Imagine my surprise when I went to do some weeding and found they were sprouting in the bag. I figured it was a sign and decided to try and force them indoors. Hopefully I'll have some color in a few weeks to offset the construction zone my house has become. So I ask you, have you successfully forced bulbs inside? My amaryllis did fine but that is all I've ever done. Do daffodils even work that way? We'll see I guess!

We are totally jazzed about getting the wall up tomorrow. I'll try to post the final project in the evening so you can see our progress. The contractor comes at 8 a.m. (eak!) so with luck it will be framed before lunch.  Fingers crossed it is a simple project and no headers are needed to complete the wall.