December 30, 2012

Our Lazy Christmas

I'm pregnant.

And tired.

And T has like two weeks off school.

Which means that I'm scrambling to find care for him while I work, get the holidays together, and figure everything out.

Plus, we got home from our vacation when half of December was over, so my usual crafting just didn't happen.

We tried to drive up to Sebastopol to cut down our own tree, see a petting zoo, and drink hot cider.  By the time we got there T was asleep and refused to get out of the car - so we came home treeless.

Ended up at Home Depot.

 This year

2011-11-25 17.31.08
Last Year

Two Years Ago

Stopped at Target and picked up some ornaments until I could get my groove on with my spray paint and pinecones.

But it was raining.

And the pinecones were wet.

So I bought some at Walgreens.

Then our tree stand broke and T learned a new word repeated over and over again as the tree almost fell on him.

Then the LED lights we bought so our house didn't fall down were blinding us.

So we unwound them and put on our old lights - housefire be damned.

My project started - spray painting pinecones, and I got about 5 on the tree before I got bored.

And our tree has sat half done for weeks.


But we like it.

Last Year's Tree:

Year Before:

Mellow Christmas Eve at a friend's house with cioppino and way too garlic-y garlic bread.

And a teensy Christmas dinner at our place with Steamed Dungeness crab, garlic bread, artichokes, and a gingerbread pear trifle (yum).

I did it! I made Biscuits!

*Since making this I've made it twice more and updated a few things since originally "published." 

This morning (1/21/13) T woke up and said, "Mama, I want sausage (morningstar patties), egg (scrambled and microwaved for 1 minute), and biscuits." 

I  said, "You mean an english muffin?"

"No, mama, a biscuit - with flour and a bowl." 

So we made them again - and this was our best yet.

Original Post:

My husband is from the south.

His mother makes these yeast rolls that are amazing.  I've tried SEVERAL times to make them and have failed miserably each time.  I've given up at this point.

I kept thinking that making biscuits would be easier.  There's like 4 ingredients, no steps, and all the reviews on all the sites say they are a no brainer.


I've tried Alton Brown's recipes (which rarely fail for me), King Arthur Flour's recipes (they seem like they should be the experts), and countless others.  My husband never criticizes my cooking, but now that he's made fun of my hockey pucks, I know that he actually likes everything I make.

This morning, he's sick and said he was craving bacon (which, um, we never have), but we did have some morningstar sausage patties in the freezer, so I offered to try my hand, once again, at a biscuit, sausage, cheese, and egg breakfast sandwich.

I opened Paula Deen's Food Network page and decided to try once again.  There were only three ingredients and it seemed simple enough.

Problem was, I only had one of the ingredients.

In my normal baking fashion (which is why I fail at baking 99% of the time), I decided to give it a go anyway :)

Long story short, these biscuits were AMAZING - with the sandwiches and with Aunt Pat's Jam (Bubbs' Aunt from Tennessee) and lots of butter.


Here's my adapted recipe:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (new fresh baking powder, not 4 year old stuff).
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups milk/cream/half and half
  • 2 tblsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with additional flour. Pat the dough down into a rectangle - adding just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to your hands.  Seriously, barely mess with the dough. Gently roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness.  Fold it over and pat down one more time. Cut the dough into squares with a sharp knife (if you don't have a cookie cutter) or use a biscuit cutter. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper leaving at least 1-inch between each biscuit. Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.

Melt an additional 2 tblsp butter in microwave.  As soon as they come out of the oven, brush the tops with melted butter.

They were fluffy and delightful.

One possibility was that my baking powder was bad - I used a brand new can here and I think that helped.

Anyway - these are not good for you or hide vegis - but holey moley they were awesome.

December 21, 2012

Ikea Nasum Boxes - Ugh.


The baskets in this picture?  Nasum baskets from Ikea.

They were amazing.  Sturdy, deep, non-offensive.  The "straw" sometimes came unraveled, but we really liked them.  They held all of T's clothes, cloth diapers, wipes, toys, etc.  When he pulled them out of the slot they were light - so it didn't hurt him like drawers would have.

At $15 a drawer, it was pricy, but so versatile, so when we moved T into the bigger bedroom and the records into the dining room (did we tell you we did that?), we knew we'd use our extra Expedits for the baby's clothes - so we'd have to buy more baskets.

Today, 6 months pregnant, in a rainstorm, I went to ikea to buy a bunch of the baskets - 10 to be exact.  They filled the shopping cart. 

Piled high in my shopping cart, I did the ikea shopping cart crawl back to the car in the pouring rain. You know the crawl - with the basket that wants to chase its tail.  Then rolls away from you in the parking lot and won't stay at your car as you unload.

Drive back across the bay, bring all 10 baskets up two flights of stairs (three trips), put them all together - only to realize that they are now made of cheap crap that falls apart instantly.


The hinges were once metal.  All 15 of our current ones are made of metal.  Sturdy, screwed into place - awesome.

The current ones?  Plastic "hinges" (really just a piece of plastic folded into a V) and nailed into place - so the bottoms don't fit snugly and the baskets start coming apart moments after you put them together.

I'm pissed.

Now I have to go BACK to ikea.

Not only that, but they don't make the metal hinges anymore.

So, I'll either have to get a different kind of basket, or hunt for metal hinged baskets in ikeas across the land.  I don't want another kind of basket.

End rant about something stupid and insignificant.

December 14, 2012

Sunnyhouse is ours!

There's no going back now!

We closed yesterday.

We're heading up that way tomorrow to cut down a Christmas Tree and get our keys.  I'm 6 months pregnant - do you think it is wise to start ripping up carpet and tearing down acoustic tiles in my condition?

I'm so looking forward to hot summer nights at the river.




December 7, 2012

Walking away from our leaking house

As this


And this

(water soaking our garage)

Were happening to our house...

We were here

Completely ignoring it.

Much like the crappy paint job the previous owners put on the inside of the house before they moved, they also did a crappy exterior paint job before we bought it.  The paint all around the house (2 years after we bought it) is cracking and pooling water under it.

We just committed to buying a portion of a falling down river house, have baby coming in four months and an au pair coming from across the world, need to build out our basement to house said au pair, and now we're looking at a full strip, calk and paint job on our house!  Whoop De Doo!  Is it horrible that I'm looking forward to picking out paint colors? we're packed and just starting to relax a bit before our 5am flight to paradise, my husband shows me where the rain is actually leaking INTO our house.

Inside the built-ins in the dining room - in a back corner, a giant (like 4in x 4in piece of caulk popped out and behind it a stream of water - and there is more caulk behind that - and the front of the house behind that).  I suppose this is a lesson in not buying a house that used to be a rental.  The owners had no pride in ownership, didn't care about fixing things with long term solutions, etc.

But, we're here in paradise.



It is difficult to get to see my husband's family - they live all over and in difficult places to get to (expensive for three of us and at least two flights and mostly a long ass drive in places where you can't get fresh vegetables, fish, or wine on Sunday).


This is our second "holiday" trip to visit them in a tropical location.

2011 - Sanibel, Florida
2012 - Tulum, Mexico

Bubbs and I honeymooned here and loved every second of it.

And, while we aren't spending quite as much time gazing into each other's eyes, that is actually happening here - with a 2 year old.  This place is magical.

This year we are renting a HUGE house on the beach on Soliman Bay - which is amazing b/c the water is calm and warm and T can safely play at the edge, walk through the water, and be a free-range kid.

He spent the first few days weary of the "waves," the dogs, the new "beach house."

But the dude is ballsy now in a way I've never seen him.

Yesterday, he opened the front door to the house and announced, "I'm leaving for the beach."  He doesn't leave our front door at home!

He's been afraid of dogs his entire life, but is now in love with the dogs that live on the property (though I HATE them since they have woken him up every night with their barking).


He runs back and forth from the water to the sand toys up closer, takes off for "water walks," and has latched onto his auntie, uncle, and grandma, despite only seeing them twice a year at most (plus skype occasionally).


He love "walking his dog."

The place we are staying is fantastic.

Seven days is a long time for vacation, and I honestly wouldn't have loved it if I were not a parent, but I need 7 days to unwind, get into a routine, and really start enjoying myself (by day 3).


The quality time here is something we never get.

Quality time with each other, Tim's family, and our boy.

As we packed for this trip, we kept telling ourselves this was the last one for a long time due to financial obligations.

I'm having a hard time believing that at this point.

More on our trip later - for now my coffee is brewing :)

November 25, 2012

This __ close to total chaos

At this point there's only one thing standing in our way - apparently this house may not be insurable by our normal insurance agents so we have to find high risk agents.  It might be due to the fact that it is over 100 years old, in the forest, and has 1/2 a foundation.

Hopefully we can find someone to insure it until we can do some updates.  If we can find someone then we will actually be 1/3 owners of this amazing disaster!

In the meantime, I dream of my summers there.

When we went up for a final walk-through yesterday, T went into this room, started dancing and yelling, "mama, I love this room!"


Not exactly my reaction - but close.

He thinks the "carpet is beautiful!"  The "carpet room" is the "master."  The only true bedroom on the main floor of the house.

Underneath there are two additional bedrooms and full bathroom - the plan is to add a staircase so all the bedrooms can be used as part of the main house.

This room will likely be his room when we go stay - it is the width of the entire house and all windows.



Think I can figure out a way to re-use that magical chandelier?

This disaster of a living room is a fantastic dream.  Redwood floors are under that carpet.  Granted, they are sticking up at all angles - but beautiful redwood floors.

living room

Bubbs will be building me window seats in both of these windows.

 I miss mine from our old house oh so much.

Carpet in the kitchen?  LOVE IT!
Yeah - kidding.

The cabinets are actually in okay condition and the fridge is clean and doesn't smell!

Hopefully there's room in our budget for a little new countertop.

The drop ceiling will go almost immediately - above it are original windows that look out into the yard with redwood trees - windows the size of the entire house.


We're planning to either move the washer/dryer/waterheater downstairs into an open area, or build cabinets around the water heater and a stackable washer/dryer right in the kitchen.  The water heater is braced just like it should be - the one thing done actually right in this house!


This shower apparently has rocks from the river as the shower floor (according to the 15 year old next door).  These beautiful rocks leak as does the rest of the shower.

The shower is getting re-tiled (and waterproofed) with white square boring tiles.  As is the tub surround.

We think this used to be a dumb waiter (or coal cart) from under the house - now it is a medicine cabinet.

Do you love the carpet in the watercloset?

How about how the toilet has been leaking for years and the floor is about to rot out and fall off the house?  How creepy is it that there's no sink in the toilet room?  How do you solve that problem?

Since the house is on a major hill (MAJOR) the "yard" is all decked.  This is one sunny deck with stairs leading up to the hot tub.



This deck gets amazing sunshine most of the day - it also has a cracked foundation, falling down railings and is on the neighbor's land by 3 ft.

Along with all the space comes a completely rotted structure:

All of the roof eaves are rotted (roof is okay)
Structure support beams are dryrotted and eaten by termites - like the beams that hold up the house.
The septic tank is a wooden box in the ground under the house - yeah - that is not going to work.
The decks are completely rotted, there is a concrete patio that is falling down the side of the house.
Squirrels live in the drop ceilings, woodpeckers put holes in all of the siding.
The pest inspector said this was his worst nightmare!

And soon it will be OURS!

Even though we have zero budget for furnishings or decor, my pinterest boards are filled with inspiration.

Hopefully in the next two days we'll get the green light from the insurance company.

November 18, 2012

It is like groundhog day over here

Just as life gets a little crazier, we decide to make it more crazy.

Our disaster is now almost 6 months more disastrous.  We've put three DIFFERENT offers on the house, been rejected three times, become so fricken frustrated with Fannie Mae, but decided to play their game because after hunting for quite some time - this is our house.

A friend of mine today told me she thought we must be independently wealthy to be able to do this. So lemme set the record straight.  This is a hell hole, for one.  We're going in with two other parties, for two (so we're really buying 1/3 of a river house), and three, the property up there is still so cheap compared to the rest of california - granted, where my inlaws live, you could buy a really nice 2-3 bedroom house that needed no work for the price we're buying this for, but we're in California wine country :) We're also cutting back significantly to be able to afford it.  No more vacations outside of this house, cutting our eating out budget, etc, etc, etc.

We're 1 day away from coming to agreement (ah, if I could only count the number of time I typed that already - who knows how close we actually are) - and after that, the mess and a half is ours!

Hopefully 6 months is enough to make it livable enough to enjoy the summer there with our new baby.  I'll be on maternity leave from March - July so I'm hoping for hot weeks at a time in our sunny heaven on the beach.  Plus, 75% of the time I work from home, so the babysitter can take the kids while I work, but we can wake up in the redwoods, drink wine in the hot tub after the kids are asleep, and not turn into evil beasts due to the fogged in summer.

Anyway, once we get confirmation, I'm posting pics :)

October 30, 2012

Does my bedroom look like a hotel room?

So, everyone who has stepped into my new and improved bedroom has said that it looks like a hotel room.  Cool by me!  I LOVE it.

When we moved into this house, we lost our mellow groovy all white and textured vibe and went with a more playful colorful toddler proof look.  My bedroom never really felt like a place to relax, but more like a place where all the leftover furniture went to die.

I did everything I could, but I never really liked our old bedroom.



There was too much empty space, not enough cohesion, and though I loved each piece individually, they just didn't seem to GO together.

Since Young House Love posted their idea about wardrobes flanking their bed, I thought it looked cool, but we always had plenty of storage.

Till we thought about where we would put two children.

T's room was tiny, but worked really well for just him.


But there was no room for a crib, let alone another floor bed or clothes for an additional person.

I was happy to give up my "big" room and trade for a smaller one.

So we did.

One morning while Bubbs and T were occupied, I painted the room dark grey.  Bubbs was HORRIFIED when he got home (it did look almost black in the evening) and T was pretty disturbed that his room wasn't there anymore.

We had ordered Ikea kitchen cabinets to fit the 30" spaces beside the bed, ikea curtains, and drawers and shelves for the kitchen cabinets.  They arrived in huge boxes.

The next day, Bubbs got going on putting together the cabinets while I put together T's new room.

By 6pm, both rooms were done.  Well, mostly done.

We hung the curtains via Young House Love's method (.79 cheapo curtain hangers). 

I bought the wrong kind of drawers, so they sit to be returned.

We purchased $50 swing-arm lights and installed them from Home Depot.

The chandelier had to be hacked (from Cost Plus) since we didn't have an overhead light in that room.  I bought the wrong color chain, so we'll fix that eventually, but for now it works!  I have to say I was totally impressed that Bubbs knew how to make that work.

We still have some art to hang on the opposite walls.

The light puts a honey comb pattern on the walls so T is obsessed with our "beehive" room and LOVES to snuggle in his hive and hide.

The closed in head of the bed is SO cozy and we keep saying how much we love hte room every time we go to sleep.

T's new room is a MAJOR hit.

I need to patch some spots on the wall still and re-arrange some art, but dude plays in his room SO much more than he used to!



There's room for the baby's crib and eventually a floor bed where the wicker chair is now.


Plus, this might sound nuts, but the "view" from each room is better with the new set up.  Since we mostly sit on the floor in T's room, all you can see is the blue sky and a few tree tops (rather than before, in our room, you would sit on the bed and see the cars parked in the neighbor's backyard).

And in our new room, since you sit on the bed, you see the blue sky as well instead of the stucco and dirt on the neighbor's house.

Overall, total success.