Category Archives: home

weekending

How is it that project task lists multiply? We started with a two-step plan when our oven stopped working.

Step one: get a gas line installed
Step two: buy a new gas range

And then we decided that before our new stove is delivered, we might as well re-do the kitchen floors since you can’t just unplug a gas oven and move it out of the kitchen. And by some miracle, we pulled off installation of a new floor before the range was delivered and installed, although we still had to polish it.

Eventually we managed to get all 7 layers of polish. Seven! But since all the furniture and kitchen gadgets are out of the kitchen (and as you can imagine, I have A LOT of kitchen gadgets), we might as well paint the walls, right?

You would if your kitchen came with stenciled vines and beige and green walls. It seems worth it, but it is hard to squeeze all these projects in between late-spring/early-summer activities and busy work weeks. And I haven’t even mentioned that the painting led to replacing the cheap trim and also removing and replacing filthy caulk. And every single one of these tasks takes way longer and way more trips to the hardware store than you could anticipate. Our house has been chaotic for weeks as a result.


US, Sweden, and Washington flags all at half-mast on Memorial Day

We are SO close to being finished. And we celebrated “almost finished” with a trip to IKEA where we failed to find new window treatments.

Of course, a trip to IKEA means we have to squeeze in some Seattle food, right? Jess found us an incredible food experience in Katsu Burger. The burgers are different kinds of meat or tofu breaded in panko and fried, served on a giant sesame bun and topped with amazing sauces, pickles, or in some cases wasabi coleslaw.

They were the most gigantic burgers I have ever been served. Veggie burgers aren’t typically gigantic. Levi had a curry pork cutlet.

And then there were the fries. Oh my god. We shared an order of nori fries and curry fries with dipping sauces like wasabi mayo and a spicy mayo made with sriracha and magic.

And to complete the meal – milkshakes! Green tea pineapple and kinako cup (kinako, chocolate, and black sesame). Wow.

The perfect weekend is a careful balance of hard work accomplished and some fun. Sunshine and junk food help. And a bonus chicken Instagram (create your own caption, it’s fun):

My weekend still has one last day. Back to painting, caulking (say “caulk” a dozen times in front of a teenage boy and try not to laugh), and mitering for me.

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The 48-hour kitchen makeover

Our oven died recently at a very inconvenient moment. We decided to seize the opportunity to convert to a gas range. Then we decided that we should re-do our kitchen floor before the new stove is installed. One thing led to another, and it seemed like while we’re re-doing the floors, we should replace the baseboards. And it would be nice to paint the kitchen too. This led to a frenzied 48 hour marathon of tile shopping, watching adhesive dry, being covered in glue and agreeing on the perfect shade of white paint. This is what our weekend looked like.


We loved the Armstrong VCT sample kit.


The gray grime is a leveling compound. The blue X marks the center of the room.


Low-VOC adhesive.


The borderlands.


The tile roller weighs 100 pounds!


We’re so pleased with the results.

We’ll work on before/after glamour shots once we can move all the furniture back to the proper place. Our new range arrives tomorrow. We have more painting, spackling and baseboard installation to do, and we need to seal/polish the new floor when the adhesive is cured, but I feel great about how much we accomplished in two days. These kitchen projects have been on our list since we bought our house and it’s exhilarating to cross them off.

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under the bed storage drawers

Awhile back we got a new bed. Headboard, frame, mattress – the works. It was (and still is) pretty luxurious after a long time with a falling apart frame that was the wrong size for our room. The leftover pieces of pine from the old bed frame were so much prettier than the stuff from the hardware store, I couldn’t throw them away. Instead I turned them into something we needed: storage drawers to go under the bed. These simple wooden boxes on casters have proven to be very useful in our little house in need of places to tuck things away.

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Ikea’s Jam Factory Kitchen: When Can I Move In?

Our list of perpetual projects includes a kitchen remodel someday. I collect images of inspiration constantly, but yesterday Ikea posted the best kitchen on the Swedish Ikea blog. They call it Jam Factory. Everything I know about this kitchen is based on the Google Chrome translation from Swedish to English, so be gentle.

This kitchen has a lot of work space and a lot of storage space. There is plenty of room for a few stock pots. There are lots of shelves to store your jammed treasures and several baskets of lemons and limes. There are fresh herbs within an arm’s reach so you can tarragon your cherry preserves or basil up your strawberry marmalade. Over the island, they hung good lighting, which comes in handy if you find yourself hulling strawberries in the wee hours of the morning. There is a scale to measure your ingredients by weight, of course. I spotted a jelly bag draining on a shelf and at least nine different kinds of large metal spoons. I only hope there is a commercial stove just out of the photo’s frame with six big burners on so you can process everything at once and an oven so you can bake enough bread to eat all the jam. See more photos of the jam factory & links to all the Ikea pieces you need to build your own here. We were in no way compensated by Ikea for this post.

Photo: Carl Kleiner for Ikea

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DIY dishwasher detergent

I have tried a few different “eco-friendly” automatic dishwasher detergents over the years, and have always been displeased with spending so much money to get such unreliable results. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that living with a septic system in our new house has caused me to be a lot more aware of the crap that we dump down the drain. Since we’ve lived here, we clean almost everything with good ol’ vinegar and sometimes borax. The toxic dishwasher detergent was probably the last bad guy hanging around the house, and now the box is almost gone.

Instead of spending a lot more money on another package of “green” stuff from the store, I decided to finally make my own using these instructions. We already use vinegar as our rinsing agent. Really, why pay $5 for a tiny bottle of Jet-Dry when we already have vinegar around the house and paid less for big gallon jug?

I only had to buy two ingredients: washing soda (found in the laundry detergent aisle at many stores and useful for other home cleaning purposes) and citric acid.

I was concerned that citric acid would be hard to find, but I stopped at the closest home brew store and success! It was $2.49 for 4 ounces of which I used half.

Into an old yogurt container went:

1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup citric acid

Mixed it all up in under 5 minutes and used a tablespoon on the low energy cycle of our dishwasher. Success! I’ve only tried one load but it looks sparkling clean.

Between this and the DIY repair on my dishwasher that cost only $11 (thank you internet, how did I ever navigate through life without you?), this is cause for celebration.

xo Krista

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Dispatches from Olympia

Forget April Showers. We are specializing in HAIL this year. Being pelted by hail for the last three days has had a very strange affect on me. I feel like I am constantly at risk of attack from above! The trade-off has been some ethereal sunrises.

I am trying to convince Krista that we should turn one of the trees in our front yard into a snag because snags are an important part of forest ecology, and technically our yard would be a forest if, you know, they didn’t build a town here. While I could make the case that urban snags are ecologically critical, and I would be right, I really think that a deliberate snag in our yard would be an amazing architectural form. Krista is not terribly resistant to this plan, and I think that 1 or 2 visits to deliberate urban snags around town would convince her. I mean, snags are like the new garden gnome, right? They should be. Here’s an example of one I spotted on a garden tour of Olympia in a recent naturescaping class (for my Master Gardener training).

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if life is a game, i win

I know everyone probably (hopefully) loves their spouse, but it’s hard to believe that I’m not the most spoiled, pampered, indulged person. First, when we were discussing the garden, Krista said to me, “Just buy whatever seeds you want. We can grow whatever you want. It’s better to have too many seeds.” Do you know what that sounds like to a person who reads seed catalogs for fun? All I could say was, I totally agree and I totally love you.

Then, Krista took it upon herself to learn how to use power tools – table saws, circular saws, drills and other tools I probably don’t even know about – to make a raised bed for our garden. I came home from work and found it in the driveway. And she still had 10 fingers! Then, she built some more.

Isn’t it beautiful?? And you should see how cute she looks in her safety goggles. The beds are all 8′ long, and today Krista measured out all of my seed packets on top of one bed. Seed packages, asparagus crowns, rhubarb roots, and seed potatoes. It’s a little ridiculous that there are more than 8 feet of seed packets in my house, but I’m so thrilled by the seeds we chose.

So, these are the first photos of our 2010 garden. Baby photos, or, like, embryo photos of the garden. I really hope I’m done buying seeds and stuff now. Well, mostly done. You know how it goes.

While Krista may have been a little surprised at the volume of seeds we own now, she didn’t miss a beat. Her reaction was to build a muppet face out of the rhubarb root, an asparagus crown, and a few seed potatoes. This is the sort of thing that affirms your belief in the awesomeness of your marriage. It’s like always being on the winningest team.

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